Career criminal, armed robbery suspect shot and killed by police following wild chase with stolen police cruiser

QUINCY, MA – An armed robbery suspect was shot and killed by a Massachusetts State Trooper. This, after the suspect reportedly stole a Rockland police cruiser and led police on a chase which left an officer injured.

Suspect Eric M. Leach had an extensive criminal record - Screenshot courtesy of WCBV on YouTube
Suspect Eric M. Leach had an extensive criminal record – Screenshot courtesy of WCBV on YouTube

The incident began when Eric M. Leach, 36, robbed a 7-Eleven on Market Street in Rockland. Rockland Police Chief John Llewellyn said that surveillance footage obtained by police showed Leach looking through the store’s windows around 6:10 a.m. Friday.

Leach entered the store a short time later and drew a handgun from his waistband.  He told the store employees that they were being robbed, and fled with approximately $330, according to Chief Llewellyn.

Suspect runs from police before stealing police cruiser - Screenshot courtesy of WCBV on YouTube
Suspect runs from police before stealing police cruiser – Screenshot courtesy of WCBV on YouTube

A customer followed Leach along Highland Street and obtained a good description for police. Several officers responded and cornered the man against a fence in a residential area.

Chief Llewellyn said:

“He refused to comply with commands and, in fact, put his arms up and challenged the officer to shoot him and walked at the officer.”

The officer holstered his firearm and deployed a taser, which was not effective because of a thick sweater the suspect was wearing. Leach then ran with the officers pursuing him on foot. 

Leach approached a resident and asked to be permitted into her home. The resident, Christine Breadmore, told local news channel WCBV:

“I actually opened my window and I said, ‘Can I help you with something?’ You could tell he was all shaky and nervous and he said, ‘Oh, I just got jumped by two kids, can I come in and use your phone?’”

Breadmore refused to allow him into the home, and the suspect continued fleeing through the neighborhood.

Police SUV damaged during pursuit - Screenshot courtesy of WCVB on YouTube
Police SUV damaged during pursuit – Screenshot courtesy of WCVB on YouTube

Police say Leach came across and entered an empty police cruiser of one of the officers involved in the foot chase. Police on foot drew their weapons, but Leach backed up and drove at the officers, who had to move out of the way.

Officers then engaged in a vehicle pursuit with Leach. District Attorney Michael Morrissey said:

“The suspect was able to enter a Rockland police cruiser and he fled the scene toward Weymouth and Abington. During that chase, the suspect struck a number of police cruisers of local departments.”

Suspect flees in police vehicle from on ramp - Screenshot courtesy of WCBV on YouTube
Suspect flees in police vehicle from on-ramp – Screenshot courtesy of WCBV on YouTube

During the pursuit, State Troopers negotiated with Leach for two hours as he fled. Morrissey said the suspect was stopped on a ramp off Route 2 at Burgin Parkway:

“Police had deployed Stop Sticks on Burgin Parkway and helped bring the car to a slow stop.”

Suspect's stolen cruiser surrounded by police - Screenshot courtesy of WCVB on YouTube
Suspect in stolen cruiser surrounded by police – Screenshot courtesy of WCVB on YouTube

The suspect remained inside the police cruiser at the location for about an hour as officers negotiated with him.  Police were aware that he had access to a patrol rifle inside the cruiser. Eventually, the suspect fled again in the cruiser and was eventually blocked in by police by BJ’s Gas Station off Liberty Street, according to Morrissey:

“During the verbal negotiations, the police observed the suspect in control of a police patrol rifle. Despite numerous requests to surrender, the suspect started to come out of the passenger door armed with a patrol rifle.”

Suspect shot and killed during standoff - Screenshot courtesy of WCBV on YouTube
Suspect shot and killed during standoff – Screenshot courtesy of WCBV on YouTube

Leach was shot by police as he exited with the rifle. Officers gave first aid at the scene until emergency medical services arrived. He was transported to Boston Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 10:15 a.m.

Morrissey said the incident was under review:

“It is unfortunate that anybody got shot by anyone. The last thing that I think a police officer wants to do is get involved in a police-related shooting. Their job is to keep all of us safe … They were faced with an armed suspect. They had decisions to make, and those decisions will be reviewed over the next few days.”

During the chase, an Abington police officer lost control of his vehicle in Rockland and struck a utility pole. The cruiser rolled over, injuring the officer.

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Sheriff’s department seizes pistol during search warrant disguised to look like toy Nerf gun

March 20, 2021

CATAWBA, NC – Sheriff’s deputies in Catawba County made an interesting discovery while serving a search warrant on March 17th, allegedly finding a pistol modified so as to appear as though it was a NERF toy gun.

While the practice of doing so isn’t illegal, it was described as “concerning” to law enforcement officials.

On March 17th, narcotics investigators with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, Hickory Police Department and the Newton Police Department reportedly executed a search warrant at the residence of 35-year-old Damien Alonzo Burch.

When executing said warrant, investigators reportedly seized various narcotics, which were said to have been cocaine, mushrooms, and marijuana. Which resulted in Burch being charged with felony cocaine possession, felony mushrooms possession, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Yet, the show-stealer in this search warrant came from what wasn’t illegal – but seized – via the search warrant, as noted in a press release from the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office:

“Investigators also seized approximately $2,300.00 in United States Currency and twenty firearms consisting of pistols, rifles and shotguns.”

“One of these weapons, a converted Glock model 19 pistol with a fifty round drum magazine, had been altered to resemble a toy Nerf gun. Firearms of this type, while not illegal to possess, are concerning to law enforcement. Firearms, in general, are commonly seized in conjunction with searches were felony amounts of narcotics are present.”

Career criminal, armed robbery suspect shot and killed by police following wild chase with stolen police cruiser
Image of altered pistol – Catawba County Sheriff’s Office

It’s certainly fair for law enforcement to have concerns over weapons modified to the point that they appear as though they’re children’s toys – but it’s still perfectly legal.

Painting and modifying a firearm for the sole purpose of alteration of appearance is just as legal as painting your car and adding a body kit.

As for the suspect in the case, Burch was issued a $20,000 unsecured bond and made his initial court appearance on March 18th.

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Author: Scott A. Davis

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