An armed robbery suspect who barricaded himself inside a Rockland, Massachusetts, police cruiser Friday morning was fatally shot at the end of a standoff after officials said he appeared to be exiting the vehicle with a police rifle.
Over about three hours, the man allegedly robbed a 7-Eleven, evaded an officer who'd cornered him on foot, stole an officer's police cruiser, led a chase through several towns south of Boston and engaged in standoffs with police twice, officials said.
Here's what we know about the incident.
On Friday morning, an armed suspect, later identified as Eric Leach, allegedly stole more than $300 from a Rockland 7-eleven, according to Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrisey.
Surveillance video from the store shows a man in a black hoodie pointing a gun at the cashiers; both are okay, police said. The handgun he used in the store hadn't been recovered by Friday afternoon.
Leach allegedly fled the store and tried to get into at least two people's homes before police spotted him, according to 911 calls to Rockland police; then an officer spotted him and cornered him on foot, Llewellyn said. Held at gunpoint, the man defied orders to surrender, challenged the officer to shoot him, and then ran around a house -- where he found an officer's unlocked police cruiser, which was unlocked despite Rockland police regulations, the department's chief said.
Leach attempted to hit officers with the SUV before taking off.
“The officers approached from the front of the vehicle, drew their service weapons, pointed it at the suspect in the vehicle. [Leach] backed up for about 12 feet, put it in drive and then sped towards the officers,” Chief John Llewellyn said.
The officers never fired their service weapons, he said, adding that it was a good decision, given state law about shooting at moving vehicles.
Now leading a chase, the robber struck a number of other police cruisers on a chase that went through Abington and Weymouth, but was stopped on the Burgin Parkway in Quincy, where the vehicle was surrounded by police from multiple agencies, authorities said.
At one point during the chase, an Abington police officer who was taking part lost control of his car on East Water Street in Rockland, hitting a utility pole and flipping over. He went to the hospital, but is okay, according to Llewellyn.
The stolen vehicle stopped off a highway ramp near Home Depot, but later maneuvered around a Massachusetts State Police armored vehicle and sped down the parkway.
Officers used tire-deflation devices to once again bring the cruiser to a stop near a BJ's Wholesale gas station about three-quarters of a mile down the parkway. Armored vehicles then pinned the SUV in place, according to authorities.
Despite continued negotiations, the suspect allegedly opened the door of the stolen cruiser with a police rifle in hand. He had worked the semiautomatic rifle free from a secure mount.
An officer then opened fire and shot the man.
Leach was given first aid after being shot and rushed to Boston Medical Center, but he was pronounced dead about 10:15 a.m., Morrisey said.
What We Know About Eric Leach, the Man Killed in the Standoff
The armed robber involved in Friday night's standoff has been identified by authorities as Eric M. Leach.
Leach, 36, has lived in Brockton and Winthrop, according to the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office.
Rockland's police chief indicated in a news conference, where he didn't name Leach, that Leach had a "lengthy criminal record" and had spent time in prison. He said his officers recognized him but didn't know Leach by name.
Court records reviewed by the NBC10 Boston Investigators show Leach was indicted in December 2012 in Plymouth Superior Court on felony counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and assault with serious bodily injury, as well as a pair of firearms charges and a misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment of a child.
Then 28, Leach had been wanted for shooting an 8-year-old girl in the leg in Brockton, according to The Enterprise.
Leach pleaded guilty in July 2015, and was sentenced to serve three to five years at MCI Cedar Junction, followed by three years of probation, with credit for time already served while his case was pending, court records show.
What We Know About the Injured Police Officer
An Abington, Massachusetts, police officer was injured Friday morning when his police cruiser struck a utility pole in Rockland and rolled over, landing on its roof.
The Abington officer was taken to an area hospital and is expected to be OK.
The officer was assisting Rockland police in catching the fleeing armed robbery suspect who had allegedly stolen a Rockland police cruiser at the time of the accident.
Customers at the BJ's Wholesale gas station were told to run by police, and some saw the incident unfold up close.
"Panic, pure panic," one witness told NBC10 Boston. "My heart was pounding. I'm still shaking just imagining it."
Witness Jason Dove told NBC10 Boston the front of the stolen cruiser was damaged.
"The whole front of it was gone, completely smashed up, you know it wasn’t going to make it too far," he said. Authorities "just T-boned him and that was it. [...]He couldn’t go anywhere at this point."
The MBTA was asked to shut down the Red Line and commuter rail service in the immediate area and provided shuttle buses between Braintree and Wollaston during the incident.
Red Line and commuter rail service resumed later on Friday.
The incident left at least one neighbor rattled.
"I’m a little nervous to be quite nervous with you," said Mark Perkins, who lives in the area. "I’m a little shaky."
The Route 3 northbound/southbound Exit 42 ramps to Burgin Parkway and Quincy Center were also closed due to temporary police activity.