BLUFFTON, Ohio (AP) — A police officer in Ohio was struck and killed by a fleeing car on Interstate 75 during a high-speed chase through multiple counties Wednesday, authorities said.
The officer, Dominic Francis of the Bluffton police department, was struck around 2:30 a.m. while he was setting up stop sticks, which flatten tires, said Sgt. Brice Nihiser of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The chase had reached speeds up to 120 mph.
Three suspects inside the car drove away for a short distance before they jumped out and ran. One was found nearby while a second one was arrested in a stolen car in Elyria, about 100 miles northeast of Bluffton, Nihiser said.
The third suspect was arrested at 12:49 p.m. Thursday.
The search caused schools in the nearby village of Bluffton to cancel classes, and Bluffton University told students to stay in their rooms and advised employees to stay home. I-75 also was shut down while authorities looked through barns, farm fields and around houses.
The chase first began near Marion when authorities saw the car going more than 100 mph and continued across several counties, Nihiser said.
Francis, 41, had been an officer in Bluffton the past nine years, said Police Chief Ryan Burkholder. He also worked as a school teacher, bus driver and as a football and softball coach with Cory-Rawson schools.
“He had a heart of gold,” Burkholder said.
Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered that flags of the United States and the State of Ohio be flown at half-staff upon all public buildings and grounds throughout Allen and Hancock counties, the Ohio Statehouse, the Vern Riffe Center, and the Rhodes State Office Tower, with fags remaining lowered until sunset on the day of his funeral.
All other public buildings and grounds throughout the state may fly the flags of the United States and the State of Ohio at half-staff at their discretion for the same time period.