DETROIT – A Michigan man was charged with murder Thursday in the death of a firefighter who authorities say was deliberately struck by a pickup truck as he collected money for charity.
Grant Taylor, 22, of Lansing, also was charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident causing death and fleeing police. Taylor, who has a history of traffic violations dating back to 2009, was ordered held without bond until a hearing next week.
Lansing firefighter Dennis Rodeman was hit Wednesday afternoon while participating in an annual Fill the Boot fundraising campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters. Rodeman, whose wife was pregnant with their first child, later died at a hospital.
Rodeman, 35, was wearing a reflective vest and other gear while standing in the road's center turning lane. Lansing police Capt. Jim Kraus said some type of traffic altercation preceded the incident.
"The suspect came by, was upset for whatever reason, (and) circled back around" before striking the firefighter, Kraus said Wednesday. "The preliminary investigation is that he deliberately hit the firefighter."
Fundraiser organizers said firefighters were wearing helmets and reflective safety vests, and that safety cones and "Fill the Boot" signs were posted in the area. Numerous people witnessed the incident, and witnesses were able to get the license plate number of the pickup, investigators said.
Taylor was arrested after a police chase.
Steven M. Derks, president of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, said the organization and its supports were devastated and "in a state of shock and mourning."
Prosecutors said the investigation is ongoing.
Taylor did not have an attorney at his arraignment hearing Thursday. The Associated Press left a voicemail message at Taylor's home seeking comment from his family. A magistrate ordered Taylor held without bond pending a Sept. 18 pre-examination conference.
Michigan Secretary of State records show that Taylor was cited for speeding in 2009 in Novi, and again in 2010 in Mason. He was involved in a 2011 traffic accident in Lansing and ticketed for failure to stop within an assured clear distance, then issued a driver improvement warning in March 2012.
On Aug. 5, he was cited for driving without proof of insurance.
Rodeman — a seven-year veteran of the Lansing Fire Department — also served in the Marines in Iraq.
"This is a shocking and unthinkable tragedy," Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said Wednesday night. "Dennis was cut down in an instant, doing what he loved, what he believed in, what he believed in most: helping other people."