Maryland man charged for attempted murder of troopers

DSP: Tow truck used to intentionally strike three officers

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BEAR — A 30-year-old Maryland man was arrested Monday for the attempted murder of three troopers, Delaware State Police spokesman Senior Cpl. Jason Hatchell said.

At approximately 2:44 a.m. Monday, troopers responded to an alarm at the Hertrich Collision Center of Bear, 100 Buckley Blvd. The arriving officer was told that a person operating a rollback tow truck entered the parking lot and began going through vehicles.

The trooper canvassed the area, locating the suspect vehicle in the Brandywine Woods apartment complex.

The trooper attempted to make contact with the suspect at a dead end in the development. Cpl. Hatchell said the suspect then drove the tow truck directly toward the DSP vehicle and struck it head-on, causing disabling damage to it. The trooper, a seven-year veteran, was injured during the collision, and treated and released from an area hospital.

The tow truck then exited the development and began traveling west on Pulaski Highway. A second trooper observed the vehicle, and a pursuit ensued, Cpl. Hatchell said. During the pursuit, a trooper’s Tahoe, stationed in a median strip, was intentionally struck by the suspect, leaving that SUV disabled, police said. That Tahoe’s driver escaped injury.

Following that collision, the tow truck continued west in the eastbound lane of Pulaski Highway, until it turned into the Elizabeth Plaza shopping center, police said. The vehicle traveled to the rear of the parking lot and stopped. A third state police SUV, occupied by two troopers (one being a recruit trooper), located the tow truck and initiated a traffic stop.

As the two troopers exited their fully marked vehicle, police said, the suspect accelerated the tow truck in reverse, striking the Tahoe. The recruit trooper, trying to exit the Tahoe on the driver’s side, was thrown from the vehicle. The tow truck then started to accelerate forward, and the 10-year-veteran trooper fired rounds from his division-issued handgun into the suspect vehicle, police said.

The tow truck continued toward the front of the shopping center, where it crashed and became disabled. The driver — identified as John Collins of Perryville — and a front passenger, Gabrielle Santucci, 26, of Delta, Pennsylvania, attempted to flee on foot but were taken into custody, Cpl. Hatchell said.

The recruit trooper injured during the incident was treated and released from an area hospital.

Mr. Collins and Ms. Santucci were uninjured.

The tow truck involved had been reported stolen from York, Pennsylvania, police said.
Mr. Collins was charged with first-degree attempted murder of an officer (three counts), possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, first-degree reckless endangering, second-degree assault, injuring a law enforcement officer, receiving stolen property over $1,500, disregarding a police officer’s signal, criminal mischief (three counts), attempted theft under $1,500, third-degree conspiracy and second-degree criminal trespass. He was arraigned in Justice of the Peace Court 2 and committed to Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Wilmington, on a $3,088,000 cash bond.

Ms. Santucci was charged with attempted theft under $1,500, third-degree conspiracy and second-degree criminal trespass. She was arraigned in JP Court 2 and committed to Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution, New Castle, on a $2,500 secured bond.