Bradley, IL – The fugitive accused of murdering Bradley Police Sergeant Marlene Rittmanic in a hotel hallway after shooting her partner in the head had disarmed her of her duty pistol and murdered her as she begged for her life, according to prosecutors.
“At the time [Darius] Sullivan fired the fatal shots into Sgt. Rittmanic, Sgt. Rittmanic was pleading with them to just leave, you don’t have to do this, please just go, please don’t please don’t,” Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe said during a recent court hearing, according to WFLD. “She was desperately pleading for her life.”
The horrific attack began at approximately 9:41 p.m. on Dec. 29, when Bradley Police Sgt. Rittmanic, 49, and Officer Tyler Bailey, 27, were dispatched to the Comfort Inn on Illinois 50 for a report about dogs barking inside a vehicle parked in the hotel parking lot, the Daily Journal reported.
Prosecutors said Officer Bailey ran the plates of the vehicle where the dogs were located and discovered it was registered to 26-year-old Xandria Harris, according to WFLD.
Officer Bailey headed into the hotel lobby and met up with Sgt. Rittmanic before asking the hotel clerk if Harris had rented a room.
He also inquired about a room potentially registered to 25-year-old Darius Sullivan, who he knew was often with Harris, prosecutors said.
Sullivan was wanted on outstanding warrants at the time for skipping court, WFLD reported.
After obtaining room information from the clerk, Sgt. Rittmanic and Officer Bailey headed to the third floor of the hotel with the intention of issuing a local ordinance violation for the barking dogs and to arrest Sullivan on his outstanding warrant, according to prosecutors.
Officer Bailey began knocking on the door of the room at 10:13 p.m., but initially received no response, WFLD reported.
He announced their presence one minute later, and told Harris through the closed door that she needed to come out and address the barking dog complaint, according to prosecutors.
Harris allegedly responded that she would come out, but police said she continued to stall for 14 minutes as the officers repeatedly knocked and spoke with her through the door, WFLD reported.
When she finally opened the door, Harris allegedly tried to squeeze through in an effort to shut the door behind her to keep police from going inside the room, according to prosecutors.
The officers told her to stop blocking the doorway just before Sullivan allegedly emerged from around a corner inside the room holding a 9mm handgun equipped with a drum magazine.
While Harris continued to fight officers’ attempts to enter the room, Sullivan allegedly pointed the gun at Officer Bailey and fired, shooting him in the head, WFLD reported.
He then allegedly turned the gun on Sgt. Rittmanic and fired at her while she tried to get to cover, prosecutors said.
She was hit once, WBBM reported.
Sullivan’s gun jammed and he tried to clear the jam with his mouth and hand while simultaneously pinning Sgt. Rittmanic against a door and trying to take away her duty pistol with his other hand, according to prosecutors.
He then allegedly called for Harris to “cock the gun” to unjam it, so she came to his aid and reached around his waist to either cock the weapon or to help take away the struggling sergeant’s firearm, prosecutors said.
The duo allegedly managed to strip Sgt. Rittmanic’s gun away and stood over her while she was on the ground, WFLD reported.
Prosecutors said Sullivan fired two rounds from the sergeant’s duty weapon, shooting her in her neck and throat while she desperately pleaded for her life, Rowe said.
R.I.P SGET. Marlene Rittmanic
Bradley PD, Illinois
Sergeant Marlene Rittmanic, was shot & killed while responding to a call about dogs barking. Her partner was also shot & remains hospitalized in critical condition.
We pray for the comfort of your loved ones. pic.twitter.com/lLrGYyP2Qt
— 👑💥 Princess 💥👑 (@polishprincessh) December 31, 2021
Sullivan fled down the stairway and left while Harris went back to the room to gather her two children and her belongings, WFLD reported.
Harris allegedly fled the hotel in a separate vehicle.
The wounded officers were transported to local hospitals, where Sgt. Rittmanic was pronounced dead, the Daily Journal reported.
Officer Bailey remained in critical condition Monday and is “fighting for his life,” Rowe said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Bradley Police Officer Tyler Bailey, 27 remains in critical condition after being shot in the head pic.twitter.com/RmF7iLBaxc
— Space-reporter-news (@Spacereportern1) January 1, 2022
Harris later turned herself in to Bradley police.
Sullivan was arrested in rural northeast Indiana, WBBM reported.
Both have been charged with first-degree murder.
Sullivan’s brother, Jalmen Sullivan, and his mother, Nichele Newton-Carroll, were both arrested on harboring a fugitive and obstructing justice charges for allegedly lying to police and transporting the wanted fugitive to Indiana in an effort to help him escape, WBBM reported.
Rowe filed a request with the U.S. Attorney General and the U.S. States Attorney for the Central District of Illinois seeking permission to pursue federal death sentences against Sullivan and Harris, WFLD reported.
“Our State’s Attorney’s Office will now work to ensure these offenders face the harshest justice the law allows, no matter the jurisdiction, and to ensure that the full weight of the criminal justice system is brought to bear upon them and anyone who assisted them,” he told WMAQ.
Sullivan and Harris were both denied bail during the hearing on Monday, WGN reported.
Sgt. Rittmanic, a 21-year law enforcement veteran, will be laid to rest Friday, according to WLS.
The Illinois State Police (ISP) released a statement Monday morning on behalf of the Bradley Police Department (BPD) and the slain sergeant’s family, calling her “a leader in community policing.”
“Marlene believed in people and her ability to speak to the community with respect; meet them where they are in life; try to understand their true needs; and work together to find a solution that produced the least disruption in people’s lives,” the statement read, according to WLS. “To her – the job was about making her community safe for everyone, she believed – and stated, ‘just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.'”
Tonight we illuminated the Donald E. Green Public Safety Center and Kankakee Administration building in blue in honor Sergeant Marlene R. Rittmanic and Officer Tyler J. Bailey of the Bradley Police Department. pic.twitter.com/5JziIcmrug
— Chris Curtis Mayor – City of Kankakee (@VoteChrisCurtis) December 31, 2021
Sgt. Rittmanic began her law enforcement career in 2000, when she joined the Iroquois County Sheriff’s Department, WLS reported.
She was later hired by the BPD, where she has been working the past 14 years.
Sgt. Rittmanic was named Law Enforcement Officer of the year in 2020 and was active in the BPD’s community and recruiting events, according to the ISP.
She was just five years away from retiring, WLS reported.
Sgt. Rittmanic leaves behind her wife, Lynette Stua.
The sergeant’s family said there will not be any valid online crowdfunding pages for Sgt. Rittmanic, WLS reported.
A fundraising page established for Officer Bailey, who was married just two months ago, has raised over $80,000 so far.