A 3-year-old boy standing on the sidewalk with his mother was struck and killed during a police chase in New Jersey's largest city Friday as cops tried to apprehend a man wanted on aggravated assault and weapons charges, authorities said.
Prosecutors say officers from Newark's fugitive apprehension team spotted the 22-year-old suspect, who was wanted in connection with a May case, driving a 2002 Hyundai Sonata near 15th Avenue and Seventh Street around 7:40 a.m. and tried to pull him over.
The suspect didn't stop his vehicle, prosecutors said. With officers pursuing him, the suspect struck a car that was driving on 15th Avenue, then mounted a curb and struck the 3-year-old boy, who was standing on the sidewalk with his mother. The boy, Rahmere Tullis, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The boy's father, Cordell Tullis, broke into tears as he tried to describe what his only son meant to him.
"I just want people to know that he was a good kid and he loved everybody. He shared his stuff. He just was a sweetheart. Everybody loved him, everybody," Cordell Tullis said. "I don't know what's going on in this moment; all I know is I'm missing my son and my son is gone. That's all I had."
Cordell Tullis said his son's favorite thing was to be with his "daddy," to ride in his car and spend the whole day with him.
"That's all he wanted to do was be with me," the father said. "I'm not even going to be able to teach my son how to ride his first bike without training wheels."
The suspect, identified as Troy Ruff, of Newark, was arrested immediately after striking Tullis, authorities said. Ruff has been charged with aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide and eluding police, as well as charges stemming from the May investigation, authorities said.
The circumstances of the May case weren't immediately clear. Bail was set at $500,000. It wasn't clear if Ruff had an attorney.
Cordell Tullis questioned why officers would be engaging in such a chase at a time when children are on their way to school.
Newark Councilman Eddie Osborne said the child's death was "horrendous" and that "the city is trying real hard to get everyone on the same page."