By Rick Palsgrove
Several incidents in May presented different challenges for the Groveport Police.
The officers dealt with robberies at a bank and store, a driver who had allegedly hit a police cruiser and nearly hit an officer, the apprehension of a driver who had allegedly been driving more than 100 mph on State Route 317, and the arrest of a man who was sitting in the middle of Williams Road allegedly threatening passing vehicles and who, when confronted by police, asked the officers to shoot him.
The bank robbery occurred at the Huntington National Bank on Groveport’s Main Street the morning of May 31. The suspect is a black male about 5’8” tall and weighing around 130 to 140 pounds. He was wearing a yellow windbreaker and jeans.
According to the police report, the suspect passed a note to the teller demanding $9,000 in large bills. The suspect got away with some cash, but Groveport Police Sgt. Brian Thompson said he believes the robber only got “a couple hundred dollars.”
The suspect fled the bank on foot heading east. The Franklin County Sheriff K-9 unit began tracking the suspect from Main and Walnut streets, but lost the scent in the alley northeast of the bank.
“We know the suspect fled on foot, but we do not know how he left the area,” said Thompson.
Historically, banks in Groveport have not been the frequent target of robbers. The most recent past bank robbery in Groveport was on July 1, 2015. That robber was caught a week later after allegedly robbing a bank in Dublin. A bank in Groveport was robbed in the mid-1980s when the robber used a fake bomb to rob the bank. Prior to that, the bank was also robbed in 1973.
The Dollar General store on Greenpointe Drive North was robbed on the evening of May 25.
The suspect is a black male who allegedly showed a handgun during the robbery. According to the police report, the suspect got away with $180.79.
“Both robberies (the bank and store) are still under investigation and there have not been any arrests,” said Thompson.
When asked if robberies, such as the ones at the bank and store, might become more frequent as the city grows, Thompson said there is no indication that these types of robberies will become more common.
Police cruiser struck
While conducting a traffic stop on Old Hamilton Road near State Route 317 on May 5, Groveport Police Sgt. Casey Adams heard something behind him. According to the police report, Adams turned in time to see a vehicle veering towards him and his parked cruiser. He avoided being hit, but his cruiser sustained minor damage.
“I would say she came within 6 to 12 inches of striking me as I stood outside my patrol vehicle conducting a traffic stop on a speeding violation,” said Adams. “What caused me to notice the vehicle coming up from behind me was a banging noise, and then seeing her vehicle before I could react. The banging noise was from her passenger mirror striking my patrol vehicle. When the mirror struck my patrol vehicle the mirror folded in and that saved me from being struck by the mirror and avoid being injured.”
Adams alleged that he knew when the car with a female driver came up on him she was close, but after looking at the in-car video he was shocked at how close.
“I question how I escaped being struck by the vehicle and realize how lucky I was to avoid serious injury,” said Adams.
According to the police report, the driver kept driving and Adams got in his cruiser and pursued the suspect. In spite of the officer’s flashing lights and siren, the suspect kept driving north on State Route 317.
The suspect drove on to an apartment complex east of Hamilton Road where she stopped. When confronted by the police, the suspect said she did not know she almost hit the officer with her vehicle. When asked why she didn’t stop, she said she didn’t think the police lights were about her.
The suspect was charged with failure to comply, reckless operation, and driving while under the influence.
“Close calls happen more often than people think,” said Adams. “When a police officer exits their patrol vehicle, they have left their safe zone where they are protected by metal, and being next to a violator’s vehicle exposes the police officer to the potential of injury or death if the police officer is struck by a passing vehicle.”
100 mph on State Route 317
On May 21, Adams observed a vehicle heading north on State Route 317 at an allegedly high speed. According to the police report, the car was clocked going more than 100 mph.
“Speeding is common in the city of Groveport,” said Adams. “It used to be concentrated mostly on State Route 317, but we are seeing violations of 10 mph, 15 mph, 20 mph, sometimes 25 mph over the posted speed limit all over the city from residential areas to the business districts and on State Route 317 at all hours of the day, every day.”
Adams pursued the speeding vehicle, which proceeded to allegedly run the red light at State Route 317 while turning right on Old Hamilton Road before it crashed on Founders Drive.
“I was in disbelief that someone would travel double the 50 mph speed limit in the dark on State Route 317, but as I saw the vehicle approaching me, I realized this was no joking matter, and that his actions were placing himself, his occupants, and the other drivers on the roadway in danger,” said Adams. “As I look back now at this violation, the driver was lucky to escape with minor injuries once he crashed his vehicle after attempting to flee and elude from being stopped for his actions, but he is also lucky his passengers did not sustain any major injuries, or harm anyone else who was traveling the roadway that night.”
The 17-year-old suspect was charged with failure to comply, reckless operation, and speeding.
The man in the road
On May 20, a man was reportedly sitting in the middle of Williams Road near Three Rivers Drive allegedly “acting strangely and cursing at passing cars,” according to the police report.
When a Groveport police officer arrived, the man walked toward the cruiser while allegedly carrying a brick, which he then threw to the ground. When the officer asked the man what was going on, the man tore off his t-shirt and allegedly asked the officer to shoot him.
Other officers arrived and the man was talked into getting on the ground, but he still asked officers to shoot him and that if they wouldn’t he allegedly said he was in the mood to hurt someone, according to the police report.
The man soon calmed down and told officers his car had broken down on Williams Road and other drivers were staring at him, which upset him.
The man was taken to a hospital for mental evaluation.