Quincy, MA – An armed robbery suspect stole a patrol car and led officers on two chases through six communities before he climbed out of the vehicle carrying a patrol rifle and was fatally shot, according to police.
The incident began at approximately 7 a.m. on March 26, when 36-year-old convicted felon Eric Leach allegedly robbed a 7-Eleven store in Rockland at gunpoint, WFXT reported.
The store clerk said the gunman barged into the business and ordered her to hand over all of the money in the cash register, which ended up being $340, according to the news outlet.
“I’ve never seen him before,” the clerk said. “I thought it was a joke. I thought it was a toy gun.”
She said the suspect took off after stealing the cash, a pair of white gloves, and a couple of snacks, WFXT reported.
— Mike Saccone (@mikesacconetv) March 30, 2021
He subsequently ran through a nearby neighborhood, trying to get into people’s homes, witnesses told WBTS.
“He came right up to my door,” resident Christine Breadmore told the news outlet. “He said ‘I just got jumped by two people…can I come in and use your phone?’”
Breadmore refused to let him inside.
A security camera also showed the suspect trying to get into another home across the street from Breadmore’s house, WBTS reported.
Rockland police responded to the area and ended up in a foot chase with the suspect, WFXT reported.
During the pursuit, Leach somehow managed to gain control of a patrol vehicle, according to investigators.
Leach then allegedly sped off, heading towards Abington and Weymouth, WFXT reported.
By the time he reached Burgin Parkway, the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) had joined in the chase.
Negotiators in an MSP Bearcat engaged in an hourlong standoff with the gunman, but he ultimately managed to escape in the stolen patrol car, leading to another chase, WFXT reported.
Local police and the MSP used SWAT vehicles and the Bearcat to corner Leach at a gas station in Quincy.
When the suspect climbed out of the stolen police cruiser armed with a patrol rifle, an MSP trooper fired a single round, hitting him, WFXT reported.
Leach was rushed to Boston Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 10:15 a.m., according to police.
This suspect just took off again – moving around a State Police vehicle – headed toward Quincy Center with police in pursuit again. https://t.co/767pASXGR7
— Peter Wilson (@PetesWire) March 26, 2021
An Abington Police Department (APD) vehicle flipped over during one of the chases, injuring an officer inside, WBTS reported.
The officer was transported to the hospital, but has since been released to recover at home.
Police said Leach was inside the stolen police car for nearly three hours, and that he managed to bend the bracket mount that had been holding the patrol rifle so he could gain control of it, according to WFXT.
Chris who works at this shop in #Quincy across the street from where a member of the @MassStatePolice STOP team shot to death Eric Leach saw the whole thing happen. He says police did their job & did it well. He says it appears Leach “didn’t want to come out alive.” @wbznewsradio pic.twitter.com/BWGwd6XUxa
— Suzanne Sausville (@wbzSausville) March 27, 2021
According to Plymouth Superior Court documents, Leach had recently been on probation for having shot an eight-year-old girl in the leg in 2012, The Boston Globe reported.
He was arrested on charges of assault and battery on a child under 14, unlawful discharge, and armed assault that involved unlawfully carrying a firearm in connection with that incident, according to WFXT.
Leach ended up pleading guilty to multiple counts and was sentenced to three to five years in prison, The Boston Globe reported.
He was released onto three years of probation in 2017.
#ITeam #Sources identify Eric Leach as the 36 year old suspect shot and killed in confrontation with police after armed robbery and chase involving stolen cruiser #Rockland #Quincy #MSP #WBZ pic.twitter.com/hhv2bwE3Vm
— Cheryl Fiandaca (@CherylFiandaca) March 26, 2021
Leach’s 43-year-old foster brother, Mario Zona, said the allegations that have been leveled against leach are “unbelievable,” The Boston Globe reported.
“It’s not something that he would do,” Zona insisted.
He described the incident where Leach shot the eight-year-old girl as an accident, and claimed Leach’s only other problems with the law involved “stupid little adolescent stuff,” according to The Boston Globe.
“[He] always tried,” Zona said of the father of two. “He was very loyal. He was loved by a lot of people.”
“We’re just trying to put the pieces together,” he added.