COLUMBUS – The Ohio State Highway Patrol has two suspects in custody following a multi-county incident this morning in which a Bluffton Police Department officer was killed. A third suspect remains at large, and is actively being searched for by the Patrol, Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, Bluffton Police Department, and other law enforcement partners.
The incident began at approximately 2 a.m. when troopers from the Marion Patrol Post observed a dark-colored sedan traveling at a high rate of speed on state Route 23 northbound, but were unable to make contact with the vehicle.
A Findlay Post trooper then identified the vehicle as a black Infiniti sedan at approximately 2:20 a.m. on state Route 15 in Hancock County. The suspect vehicle continued to flee on state Route 15 and then onto Interstate 75 southbound.
At 2:30 a.m., on Interstate 75, near exit 142, Officer Dominic Francis, 42, Bluffton Police Department, was attempting to deploy stop sticks and was struck by the fleeing vehicle. Officer Francis subsequently succumbed to his injuries from the crash.
Three suspects fled on foot east from the Infiniti sedan. At approximately 3 a.m., a gray 2010 Toyota Prius was stolen from a residence on County Road 29 in Hancock County. One of the suspects was taken into custody in the neighboring proximity of the residence from where the Prius was stolen.
The Toyota Prius was then located by a trooper from the Medina Post on Interstate 71 near milepost 208 in Medina County. The vehicle continued to flee on westbound state Route 82. One suspect was ultimately taken into custody from the Prius at approximately 8:15 a.m. after a traffic stop at state Route 57 and Chestnut Ridge Rd. in the city of Elyria.
The Patrol is partnering with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, Bluffton Police Department, and other law enforcement partners in the search for the third suspect. He is described as a young African American male, thin build, wearing black pants and a light gray sweatshirt. If members of the public observe an individual matching the description, please call 911, the Findlay Dispatch Center at (419) 423-1414, or the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office at (419) 422-2424. The public is urged not to make contact with the suspect, as he is at this time considered dangerous.
The Patrol wants to reiterate its appreciation of all agencies involved in the ongoing investigation, as well as resources being deployed in the active search of the third suspect.