ROCKLAND (CBS) — A police shooting that left a 36-year-old man dead in Quincy on Friday began after an alleged armed robbery of a 7-11 in Rockland. The suspect, identified by I-Team sources as Eric Leach, was able to steal a police cruiser from Rockland officers and lead police from multiple agencies on a chase throughout the morning.

Rockland Police said the man went into a 7-11 convenience store at 7 a.m. and “approached the two females that were working at the store, showed them a handgun that he took from his waistband, pointed the gun at one of them, and informed them that they were being robbed.” He got away with $334.

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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.

Armed robbery suspect inside 7-11 in Rockland before police chase (WBZ-TV)

An officer found him, pointed his gun at him and ordered him to get on the ground. “He refused to comply with the commands, and in fact put his arms up and challenged the officer to shoot him and walked at the officer,” said Rockland Police Chief John Llewellyn.

As the suspect approached, the officer put his gun away and attempted to use his taser instead but it didn’t affect the suspect due to his heavy sweatshirt.

Llewellyn said as the suspect and officers ran through yards, the suspect was able to get into one of the police cruisers because “unfortunately, the officer in the heat of the moment, attempting to catch an armed robbery suspect, left the car unlocked.”

“We do have a policy at the police department, where you secure your vehicle, every time you get out and you lock it. We employ human beings so you can imagine that the stress of the moment, and the adrenaline rush that he was going through trying to catch this robbery suspect, and he just forgot.”

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The suspect allegedly drove at officers who had to jump out of the way.

A chase then ensued through Rockland, Norwell, Hanover and Weymouth. An Abington police officer was hurt after his cruiser hit a utility pole and rolled over during the chase. A Weymouth Police cruiser was also damaged but the department said the officer was OK. 

In total, Llewellyn said the man spent about three hours in the cruiser. During that time, he was able to pull the cruiser’s semi-automatic rifle out of its secure position between the two seats.

By not shooting at the fleeing cruiser, officers “exercised great discretion and restraint in my opinion,” Llewellyn said.

As for the officer whose cruiser was stolen, “he’s pretty distraught,” Llewellyn said. He’ll be given a few days off. “I don’t fault him for really going out there and chasing somebody with a gun,” Llewellyn said.

The cruiser was later stopped twice on Burgin Parkway. The second standoff with police ended in a deadly officer-involved shooting.

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Rockland Police are still looking for the gun that was shown during the 7-11 robbery.

CBSBoston.com Staff