Cops: Driver Deliberately Hits, Kills Newlywed Firefighter as He Collects Money for Charity
Cops say a pickup truck driver intentionally struck a Michigan firefighter as he stood in a road collecting money for charity.
Dennis Rodeman, a seven-year veteran of the Lansing Fire Department and a newlywed whose wife is expecting their first child, died after the accident on Wednesday night.
Rodeman, a former Marine who had survived a tour of Iraq, was hit around 3.40pm on Wednesday as he and other firefighters took part in an annual fundraising campaign.
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Authorities reportedly say the 22-year-old suspect and Rodeman exchanged words before the driver mowed down the firefighter in a Chevy S-10 pickup.
"The suspect came by, was upset for whatever reason (and) circled back around" before striking the firefighter, Lansing police Captain Jim Kraus told the Lansing State Journal. "The preliminary investigation is that he deliberately hit the firefighter."
Rodeman, 35, was wearing a reflective vest at the time.
After the suspect hit Rodeman, he drove away from the scene. According to authorities, he eventually stopped the vehicle and fled on foot, but police caught up with him.
Police Chief Michael Yankowski said the unnamed suspect is being held on suspicion of murder and felony fleeing and eluding, The Associated Press reported.
Rodeman was married just two months ago. His wife is pregnant with their first child.
Mayor Virg Bernero said at a press conference: "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."
He was raising funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters at the time, authorities said.
Bernero added: "He served his country with great pride, bravery and ability, having survived a tour of duty in Fallujah, Iraq, one of the most dangerous places in the world.
"It is beyond comprehension that this American hero lost his life on the streets of Lansing while collecting charitable contributions for children afflicted by muscular dystrophy."
Lansing Fire Chief Randy Talifarro said Rodeman was "a highly regarded individual."
"He was just a joy to work around," Talifarro said.
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