(3-31-22) Dominic Francis (41) an officer with the Bluffton Police Department was killed by suspects involved in a high speed pursuit on Interstate 75 in Hancock County early Thursday morning.
According to Ohio State Patrol Francis was stuck by the vehicle while attempting to deploy stopsticks on Exit 142 on southbound I-75 at 2:30 a.m.
Besides being a part of the Bluffton Police he was a coach and bus driver at Cory Rawson Schools.
Mayor Rich Johnson of Bluffton:
“This is a very sad day for not only the residents of Bluffton and his family, but the brotherhood of law enforcement. We’d like to thank the family, let them know that the village will do everything we can to help the family out. We send our condolences out to all those involved.”
UPDATING details at this moment…
Details from this morning’s press conference…
The suspects then exited the car they had been driving and fled on foot before stealing another vehicle around 3 a.m. nearby along County Road 29.
One suspect was apprehended near the scene of the car theft and a second was captured in Elyria after a highway patrol trooper spotted the vehicle on I-71.
The manhunt for the third suspect continues late Thursday morning. Authorities described him as a young, African-American male, wearing black pants and a gray sweatshirt. The pursuit concluded in Elyria on Route 57 near Chestnut Ridge.
As the search for the suspects commenced around Bluffton Thursday morning, nearby schools and businesses closed or locked down.
Due to this incident, I-75 in both directions had been closed between State Route 103 and State State Route 235, the road has since been opened.
3/31/22 1:50 PM UPDATE from Ohio State Highway Patrol:
FINDLAY – The Ohio State Highway Patrol has the third suspect in custody following a multi-county incident this morning in which a Bluffton Police Department officer was killed. Additional information will be forthcoming.
The incident began at approximately 2 a.m. when troopers from the Marion Patrol Post observed a dark-colored sedan traveling at a high rate of speed on state Route 23 northbound, but were unable to make contact with the vehicle.
A Findlay Post trooper then identified the vehicle as a black Infiniti sedan at approximately 2:20 a.m. on state Route 15 in Hancock County. The suspect vehicle continued to flee on state Route 15 and then onto Interstate 75 southbound.
At 2:30 a.m., on Interstate 75, near exit 142, Officer Dominic Francis, 42, Bluffton Police Department, was attempting to deploy stop sticks and was struck by the fleeing vehicle. Officer Francis subsequently succumbed to his injuries from the crash.
Three suspects fled on foot east from the Infiniti sedan. At approximately 3 a.m., a gray 2010 Toyota Prius was stolen from a residence on County Road 29 in Hancock County. One of the suspects was taken into custody in the neighboring proximity of the residence from where the Prius was stolen.
The Toyota Prius was then located by a trooper from the Medina Post on Interstate 71 near milepost 208 in Medina County. The vehicle continued to flee on westbound state Route 82. One suspect was ultimately taken into custody from the Prius at approximately 8:15 a.m. after a traffic stop at state Route 57 and Chestnut Ridge Rd. in the city of Elyria.
The Patrol is partnering with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, Bluffton Police Department, and other law enforcement partners.
The Patrol wants to reiterate its appreciation of all agencies involved in the ongoing investigation, as well as resources deployed.
UPDATE: The third suspect was arrested at 12:49 p.m. Additional details will follow.