LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Police in Michigan have arrested the driver of a pickup truck who they believe intentionally struck a firefighter standing in a roadway collecting money for charity, killing him.
Dennis Rodeman, a seven-year veteran of the Lansing Fire Department, died Wednesday night, Mayor Virg Bernero said.
The 35-year-old Rodeman, who also served in the U.S. Marines in Iraq, according to the mayor, was struck about 3:40 p.m. He and other firefighters were participating in an annual fundraising campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters, authorities said.
“This is a shocking and unthinkable tragedy. … Dennis was cut down in an instant, doing what he loved, what he believed in, what he believed in most: helping other people,” Bernero said at a press conference.
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Rodeman was married two months ago, and he and his wife were expecting their first child, Fire Chief Randy Talifarro said.
A “traffic altercation” preceded Rodeman being hit, Lansing police Capt. Jim Kraus told the Lansing State Journal (http://on.lsj.com/1UCKEQS ) .
“The suspect came by, was upset for whatever reason (and) circled back around” before striking the firefighter, Kraus said. “The preliminary investigation is that he deliberately hit the firefighter.”
Rodeman was wearing a reflective vest and other gear and was standing in the road’s center turning lane.
Tionna Davis told the newspaper she was driving in the area and saw the pickup swerve from one lane to another before Rodeman was struck.
“He literally tried to hit him,” she said.
The truck fled the scene, authorities said. The driver eventually stopped the vehicle and fled on foot, but police officers caught him. The 22-year-old suspect’s name wasn’t immediately released.
Prosecutors could file charges Thursday. Police Chief Michael Yankowski said the suspect was being held on suspicion of murder and felony fleeing and eluding.
Talifarro called Rodeman’s death “a tremendous loss.”
He described the fireman as a highly regarded colleague with an “unblemished” work record.
“He was a joy to work around,” Talifarro said.