TOLEDO, OHIO – A 63-year-old man from Point Place died in a car crash during the chaos of Saturday morning’s police chase to catch the Rite Aid robbery suspect.
Officers ended up shooting and killing the armed robbery suspect, 48-year-old Brian Lipp, after the lengthy high speed chase. At least seven other people were injured, including two police officers, during the series of crashes.
13abc spoke with the Hamilton family off camera. The couple and their two young children were involved in one of the accidents. They were treated and released from the hospital. The Hamiltons say everyone is shaken up, but physically okay given the circumstances.
We also spoke to the family of the innocent victim that was killed. They understandably did not want talk, but wanted to say their father was incredibly loved and will be terribly missed.
Larry Collins, 63, of Point Place was adored by his family. He’s a loving father of four and a grandfather of five. Collins was tragically killed when the armed suspect led officers on a wrong-way chase onto I-75 northbound near Lagrange into oncoming traffic. Moments later, there was a multiple car crash that turned fatal.
Chief Mike Navarre of the Toledo Police says, “The tragedy of today’s event is the death of an innocent person just driving on 75. I don’t know where they were going or what they were doing, one minute they’re driving along the next minute their life is ended. Because of the senseless act of a person who is desperate for money to feed a drug habit.”
Police reports state Collins was trying to merge right to avoid hitting the suspect’s vehicle when Collins’ Lincoln and a police cruiser collided head on. Two officers were taken to St. V’s with non-life threatening injuries.
“The officers to my knowledge, were hugging the concrete median trying to do this, minimize the risk involved, it’s a very dangerous situation and it appears at some point the suspect’s vehicle, who is also next to the median, crossed over causing the traffic to hit the officers head on.”
The police chief and mayor are defending the officers’ decision to continue the pursuit into oncoming traffic along I-75. Navarre says, “In this instance I will tell you that the officers are in a catch 22.”
Toledo mayor Mike Bell says, “Obviously they thought they were gonna make a difference and myself as mayor, I’m not gonna second guess that particular decision.”
Lipp eventually made his way to southern Wood County where he stole another car and committed another store robbery. State troopers then took over the high speed pursuit on I-75 back into Toledo. The suspect tried to exit the Bancroft ramp, when he lost control and crashed into a garage.
“We believe he was smoking crack while he was laying in that car on its side. He picked up that gun, raised that gun, pointed it, officers returned fire,” explains Navarre.
Seven officers in total fired their guns; three from TPD, three State Troopers and one FBI agent. The chief estimates 40-50 rounds were fired. The suspect was struck multiple times and was pronounced dead on scene.
Police recovered the suspect’s weapon. It turns out it was a pellet gun. As with all fatal police-involved shootings, there will be an investigation headed by Toledo Police. It will then be presented to the Lucas County Grand Jury for review.