QUINCY (CBS) — Police shot an armed robbery suspect in a stolen Rockland police car in Quincy Friday morning after a tense standoff and chase through several towns. The suspect, identified by I-Team sources as 36-year-old Eric Leach, has died.
It all started around 7 a.m. when Leach allegedly robbed a 7-11 convenience store in Rockland with a reported handgun and ran off with $334.
Rockland officers responded to the 7-11 and then a neighborhood about a half a mile away where two people had called to report the man had tried to get into their homes.
Security camera footage shows him knocking on one door, before going across the street to Christine Breadmore’s house, with a story that seemed suspicious. “He was standing there, I opened my window a little bit and said can I help you with something? He goes, ‘Yes I was just jumped by two kids can I come in and use your telephone?’” Breadmore said. “I definitely knew there was something sketchy about it and I did get freaked out. I knew because he was jittery.”
Breadmore’s dog eventually scared him away and then officers arrived.
Rockland Police Chief John Llewellyn said the suspect ran off and officers followed. At this time, he got into one of the police cars and drove at officers who were able to jump out of the way.
“Unfortunately, the officer in the heat of the moment, attempting to catch an armed robbery suspect, left the car unlocked,” said Llewellyn.
The stolen cruiser later stopped on the Burgin Parkway in Quincy and was quickly surrounded by heavily armed police, but the suspect refused to get out. After an hour, he managed to get away again, driving around all of the police vehicles.
Stop sticks were deployed to flatten the cruiser’s tires and it stopped near the BJ’s Gas Station on the parkway and negotiations began.
“During the verbal negotiations, the police observed the suspect in control of a police patrol rifle. Despite the numerous requests to surrender, this suspect started to come out of the passenger door with the patrol rifle. The State Police Stop Team member discharged a weapon and shot the suspect,” said Morrissey.
“It is unfortunate that anybody got shot by anyone. The last thing a police officer wants to do is be involved in a police related shooting.”
While that was going on, commuters were forced to find alternative routes as the MBTA’s Red Line and Commuter Rail in the area were shut down.
Officers were told not to communicate through the police radio since the man had access to it in the stolen cruiser, according to I-Team sources.
Llewellyn confirmed the cruiser did not have a so-called kill switch that disables the SUV remotely if necessary.
The stolen cruiser somehow got through police at the Burgin Parkway off-ramp but officers have stopped him again at the BJ's. pic.twitter.com/bweMmPBfud
— Liam Martin (@LiamWBZ) March 26, 2021
Massachusetts State Police said the situation was over around 9:45 a.m. The man was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead at 10:15 a.m.
The Norfolk District Attorney’s Office is handling the investigation.
Weymouth Police also confirmed to WBZ-TV that one of their cruisers was damaged during the chase. They said their officer is OK but did not provide any other details about the crash.
An Abington police officer was hurt after his cruiser hit a utility pole and rolled over during the chase. He is recovering and expected to be released from the hospital soon.
— Beth Germano (@BethWBZ) March 26, 2021
Witnesses who were forced to leave their cars at the gas station and run to safety were able to pick them up after the suspect was taken away.
“The SWAT team just plowed right into him to hold him still and that was it. They told us to get out, get out of the area as fast as we could. We were hiding around the corner the whole time,” said Jason Dove.
Mark Fernandes said, “When I pulled up I heard the police officers down here on the SWAT vehicle and everything telling him the orders like ‘get out of the car’ and stuff like that.