COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — One Columbus officer remains hospitalized and one suspect is dead following a police chase on Interstate 70 — but investigators said Friday at least one suspect is still at large.
After Mayor Andrew Ginther visited the injured officer at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, Columbus Division of Police Assistant Chief Greg Bodker said outside the Thursday incident was “an active, ongoing, very active investigation as we stand here this morning.”
Minutes later, Columbus police released a photo of the second suspect they believe to still be at large. The division is asking anyone with information to contact Columbus police at 614-645-4545 or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers anonymously at 614-461-TIPS.
The officer, who Columbus police have not named, was shot in the leg Thursday around 4 p.m. during a shootout with the suspects on I-70 near West Mound Street. Officers were pursuing the three, accused of robbing a car dealership and then a bank, police said.
Medics pronounced one suspect dead at 4:20 p.m. — and large swaths of the highway remained closed for hours into the night.
The two other suspects — both of whom ran southbound from the stolen car when the police pursuit ended — remained at large for nearly 15 hours, according to police. Early Friday morning, officers took more than two people into custody in the North Linden area, near East Weber Road and McGuffey Road.
Initially, Columbus police said on Facebook that both remaining suspects were taken into custody during that arrest, but the deputy chief later walked that back.
“There were more than two people taken into custody, interviews are being and were conducted, in conjunction with search warrants,” Bodker said. “I’m confident that we will ultimately file charges on someone, but I don’t know if it’s the people that were interviewed this morning.”
Columbus police said in a news release Friday afternoon the suspect who was shot and killed on the highway has yet to be identified and did not say whether the second suspect, identified and interviewed in the morning, was in custody. The division did say he had not been formally charged, so they would not release his identity.
As of 4:30 p.m., the third suspect still had not been identified or located, according to police.
The pursuit began around 2 p.m., shortly after several law enforcement agencies responded to reports of an armed robbery at a Porsche dealership on the 400 block of N. Hamilton Rd. in Whitehall, Sgt. Joe Albert said during a Thursday news conference.
There, three men demanded the keys to a black Porsche SUV and drove it to rob a Fifth Third Bank on the 2400 block of Hilliard Rome Rd. on the city’s west side, according to Bodker.
Several law enforcement agencies and at least two police helicopters followed the stolen Porsche to I-70 near West Mound Street, where the shootout — which involved eight officers — began. Although the details remain unclear, Albert said multiple officers discharged their weapons.
A handgun was was recovered from the shootout scene.
“Today, our greatest fear in law enforcement became a reality when a Columbus Division of Police officer was shot in the line of duty,” Chief Elaine Bryant wrote in a statement Thursday night. “This is a reminder of the dangers the courageous men and women of this division face each day.”
The officer shot was taken by his partner to the surgery center at Grant Medical Center in critical condition, where he is “fighting for his life,” according to Brian Steel, executive vice president of the local Fraternal Order of Police. The officer’s condition was upgraded from critical to stable around 6:40 p.m., Steel said.
Before working in Columbus, the injured officer worked in Dublin, Ginther said Friday. Ginther asked the public to pray for the officer and his family and encouraged residents to contact Crime Stoppers. Bodker did not name the officer, but said he was a patrol officer on the west side.
“His life was saved by his partners in patrol who got him here quickly. The doctors and staff at Grant, they perform miracles here, and they did that yesterday,” Bodker said. “This officer is struggling. He’s got a long road ahead. We’re confident that his toughness will pull through.”
The following parts of the highway were closed during the investigation:
- I-70 to U.S. Route 40 near West Broad Street
- I-70 east at Interstate 670
- The ramp to Interstate 71 north at I-70 west
- I-70 west at Rich and Town streets
- The ramp to State Route 315 to I-70 west
All roads reopened around 3:40 a.m., close to twelve hours later. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations is leading the investigation, which is protocol in shootings involving police officers, Bodker said.