ROCK ISLAND, IL – Protesters gathered at a hospital in Illinois that was treating multiple officers injured during a violent incident involving an armed fugitive.
The fugitive was killed by police after carjacking a female bystander and then crashing the vehicle into a gas station while dragging several officers.
The protest formed following the incident which occurred around 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening at the Kum & Shop, 2961 11th St. in Rock Island. The incident ended with the fatal shooting of the armed man by police.
The incident began when Rock Island police officers observed a known wanted suspect, who was considered armed and dangerous, in the area of 12th Street and 31st Avenue, according to a police press release.
Large police presence at the Kum & Shop in Rock Island at 31st Avenue and 11th Street. Officers from Rock Island County Police, Rock Island City Police and Moline Police. pic.twitter.com/h7mA63SNNc
— Taylor Boser Local 4 News (@tmboser) April 2, 2021
As officers approached the suspect, he fled on foot. Police observed the suspect was holding a handgun as he ran. Officers pursued the suspect to the Kum & Stop gas station, where the suspect hijacked a car from a female bystander.
Officers struggled with the suspect, physically attempting to remove him from the woman’s vehicle.
During the struggle, the suspect drove the vehicle in reverse causing several officers to be dragged by the vehicle. While dragging the officers, the vehicle crashed into the gas station building. Multiple officers fired their weapons and ended the threat.
There is a car smashed in to the Chicken Shack. There are bullets holes in the front windshield. pic.twitter.com/zMmwrXy5AL
— Taylor Boser Local 4 News (@tmboser) April 2, 2021
Local 4 News described the scene:
“A white car, with at least six bullet holes in the windshield and one in the front passenger window, was smashed up against the front of the store, Bricks have fallen from the store onto the car.”
Officers recovered a firearm from the scene.
The fugitive and three Rock Island officers were transported to Unity-Point Trinity Hospital for treatment of injuries. One officer suffered a “gazing” bullet wound to the head during the incident. The suspect later died of his injuries at the hospital.
— Ryan Risky (@rriskyyy) April 2, 2021
The injured officers were treated at the hospital and have since been released.
Additional officers from multiple departments were called to the hospital as between 30 and 40 people gathered outside. Local media reported the crowd was angry and appeared to be protesters. Several officers were guarding the entrance to the hospital Thursday night.
I’m at Trinity Point Hospital in Rock Island where people are gathered after an earlier officer involved shooting at 11th and 31st street.
Not much information available at the moment but will update as it becomes known. pic.twitter.com/mtUIEt9ncZ
— Darby Sparks (@darbysparks) April 2, 2021
Unity-Point Trinity Hospital issued a statement Thursday at about 9:36 p.m. asking the public to avoid the area:
“We are aware of a gathering of people and law enforcement outside our Trinity Rock Island campus. For everyone’s safety, we are asking our neighbors and fellow community members to avoid the area until further notice.”
The warning remained in place until 10:13 a.m. when officials announced that hospital operations have been returned to normal.
— Raychelle Nunn (@RaychelleNunn1) April 2, 2021
The identity of the injured officers and suspect have not been released.
Rock Island County Coroner Brian Gustafson said his office was conducting a death, and that the identity of the deceased man will be released following notification of his family.
Additionally, the Rock Island County Integrity Task Force has been activated and will investigate the incident. The involved officers will be placed on administrative leave while the incident is investigated, a normal procedure following a police-involved shooting.
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Elderly man injured after threatening to drive into gas pumps then opening fire on deputies
March 24, 2021
HUDSON, FL – A 79-year-old man was reportedly shot by Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies after allegedly opening fire on the deputies at a gas station on March 20th. While no deputies were injured, the suspect is said to be at a local ICU after being shot.
Pasco Sheriff’s Office investigating deputy-involved shooting at RaceTrac gas station https://t.co/qbWhzY5tKv
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) March 20, 2021
There are three things one can count on nowadays: death, taxes, and a “Florida man” getting wrapped up in bizarre, criminal circumstances. Such is the case with 79-year-old James Zambrotto.
According to Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, the incident occurred at RaceTrac gas station in Hudson. The sheriff stated that one of his deputies had encountered Zambrotto at the gas station, and the man was allegedly “rambling” about wanting to kill people:
“He starts talking to the deputy…he starts rambling stuff about how he wants to kill somebody… He wants to drive his vehicle into the gas pumps to kill people.”
Apparently, this deputy was talking with Zambrotto for roughly 15 minutes, and even offered him a cup of coffee during the interaction. Yet, the suspect allegedly kept expressing his desire to cause harm and continued to reference driving into a gas pump to cause an explosion.
This in turn resulted in the deputy calling for some backup.
Zambrotto was said to have continued speaking with deputies for 40 more minutes, according to Sheriff Nocco, and then drove his vehicle into one of the deputies’ patrol units while blocking the gas station exit.
Not long thereafter, Zambrotto allegedly started to shoot at the deputies through his windshield. Two deputies were said to have returned fire on the suspect, non-fatally striking him. The suspect was later transported to an intensive care at an area hospital following the incident.
.@PascoSheriff says a man in his 70s stated he wanted to harm people. Deputies spent 40 minutes trying to deescalate the situation. The man started shooting at deputies through his car. Deputies shot back. That man is hospital. No deputies hurt @WFLA: https://t.co/G9u6Esv5a9 pic.twitter.com/2iktkWptK4
— Niko Clemmons (@WFLANiko) March 20, 2021
Authorities recently released the bodycam footage from the incident in question, in which deputies can be seen trying to plead with the suspect to show his hands while he’s seated inside of his vehicle.
A tense exchange ensues once the suspect’s weapon is spotted, with deputies having drawn down on Zambrotto and ordering him to keep his hands visible.
As evidenced in the video, one deputy can later be seen aiming a can of OC or pepper spray at the suspect through the rear window that’s rolled down, which is when Zambrotto drives into the patrol unit parked in front of him.
After several attempts to get Zambrotto to roll his front window down once the firearm was seen being within his reach, deputies can be seen trying to breach his driver’s side window with a baton.
Things escalated quickly from there, with the suspect allegedly firing at the deputies and the deputies then returning fire.
Sheriff Nocco noted that Zambrotto has zero criminal history with the sheriff’s office and there’s no evidence to suggest that he suffers from any form of mental illness. While Sheriff Nocco is happy that none of his deputies were injured, he really wishes that matters wouldn’t have escalated as they did that day:
“It’s a tragedy, we wish to God nobody was harmed today, but because of his actions we had to take action, that action may have prevented him from harming someone else.
“Thank God the deputies are OK. But I go back to this: I wish to God nobody was harmed today, I wish to God the situation could have deescalated.”
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Author: Scott A. Davis