BEAR, Del. — A Cecil County man is facing attempted murder charges after he allegedly drove a rollback tow truck into three Delaware State Police patrol vehicles — on purpose — prompting one trooper to fire several gunshots at the suspect, police reported.
Investigators identified the suspect as John Collins, 30, of Perryville.
Collins is facing three counts of attempted first-degree murder and numerous other charges, including possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, reckless endangerment, second-degree assault resulting in the injury of a law enforcement officer and attempted theft, police said.
After his arraignment, Collins remained in the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in lieu of $3 million bond on Tuesday, police added.
The incident started at approximately 2:44 a.m. on Monday, when DSP troopers responded to an alarm at Hertrich Collision Center in the 100 block of Buckley Boulevard in Bear, police reported.
Troopers learned that a man operating a rollback tow truck had driven onto that business park lot, where he then was seen “going through vehicles,” police said. Moments later, a trooper spotted the suspect vehicle in the nearby Brandywine Woods development and then attempted to make contact with the suspect at a dead end in that neighborhood, police added.
“The suspect then drove the tow truck directly towards the state police vehicle and struck it head on, causing disabling damage,” a DSP spokesperson outlined.
Injured in the alleged deliberate collision was a trooper, a seven-year veteran who was treated at an area hospital and later released, the spokesperson reported.
After that collision, the suspect drove the tow truck out of the development and then headed west on Route 40, where another trooper spotted the suspect vehicle and started pursuing it in his patrol vehicle, according to police.
“During the pursuit, a trooper who was stationed in the median strip was intentionally struck by the suspect, who drove the tow truck into the side of the marked state police Tahoe, disabling it,” the spokesperson said.
After that collision, the suspect then fled in the wrong direction on Route 40 — driving westward in the eastbound lane, police alleged.
The suspect then turned into the Elizabeth Plaza Shopping Center in the 1400 block of Route 40, before heading to the rear of that shopping center and stopping in the back parking lot, police said. That is where the suspect allegedly intentionally rammed the tow truck into a third DSP patrol vehicle, police added.
“A third state police vehicle occupied by two troopers, one being a recruit trooper, located the tow truck and initiated a traffic stop. As the two troopers exited their patrol car, the suspect accelerated the tow truck in reverse, striking the fully-marked state police Tahoe. The recruit trooper, who was trying to exit the vehicle on the driver side, was thrown from the vehicle,” the DSP spokesperson summarized.
The recruit trooper was transported to an area hospital, where he was treated for his injuries and then released, according to police.
As the suspect started to accelerate the tow truck, after the collision involving the recruit trooper, a trooper who is a 10-year DSP veteran “fired rounds from his divisional issued handgun at the defendant and into the vehicle,” the spokesperson reported.
No one was wounded by the trooper’s gunshots.
The suspect then drove the tow truck to the front of the shopping center, where the vehicle crashed and became disabled, after he had lost control of the truck, police said. Collins and his front-seat passenger, Gabrielle Santucci, age and address unavailable, allegedly attempted to run away, but troopers arrested them, police added.
During their follow-up investigation, DSP troopers learned that the tow truck driven by Collins had been reported stolen in York, Pa., police reported.
Santucci is facing lesser charges, including second-degree criminal trespass, attempted theft of property valued at $1,500 or less and third-degree conspiracy, according to police. After her arraignment, Santucci was committed to the Delores J. Baylor Correctional Institution in lieu of a $2,500 secured bond, police reported.