Six people were killed in a crash involving a car and an Upper Arlington Police cruiser early Friday.
Perry Township Police said on Friday afternoon that the victim/driver of the vehicle involved in the six-person fatal crash in Upper Arlington entered the intersection of Riverside and Fishinger roads on a red light.
The police chief told 10TV News that the officer, who was heading to the scene of a robbery on Henderson Road with his lights and sirens on, entered the intersection at the start of a yellow light and slammed into the victims’ vehicle, which was stopped in the middle of the intersection.
The reason the victims’ vehicle was in the intersection was unknown.
The six that were killed were members of a family from Iraq who have lived in Columbus for three years.
Those killed were driver Eid Shahad, 39, his wife, 31-year-old Entisar Hameed and their four daughters: 16-year-old Shuaa Badi, 14-year-old Amna Badi, 12-year-old Ekbal Badi and 2-year-old Lina Badi.
All of the victims were unrestrained, and the 2-year-old was not in a safety seat.
Friends said that the family had just left a friends’ home on Henderson Road and was heading home to the west side at the time of the crash.
“It was one of the worst accidents I’ve seen in a long time,” said Perry County Police Chief Robert Oppenheimer. “What really bothers all of us is, we’re fathers, mothers, police officers at the scene to see these young kids lose their lives.”
The Upper Arlington Police officer involved in the crash was identified as 30-year-old Shawn Paynter, who was hired in 2008. He was taken to Riverside Methodist Hospital with a head injury, but he was expected to make a full recovery.
“I mean, he’s such a great guy. He’s always out in the neighborhood playing with the neighborhood kids. They don’t have children of their own,” Kurfees said.
A McDonald's spokesperson told 10TV that the robbery the officer was responding to involved a man who forced workers inside a restroom at gunpoint.
Franchise owner and operator Mike Telich released the following statement:
"We are completely shaken by what happened. We pray for those who lost their lives, and the officer still recovering. And, we pray the suspect who set off this tragic chain of events will be caught quickly."
McDonald's has turned over surveillance video from the robbery to police and is offering a reward through Central Ohio Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest of the suspect.
The suspect is described as a heavy-set black male wearing jeans and a red hooded sweatshirt. None of the victims were injured in the robbery.
10 Investigates learned that the McDonalds robber could be charged with murdering the six people who died.
Ohio law states that a defendant can be convicted of murder if he commits a violent crime that is a felony in the first or second degree and someone dies as a result of that act.
A Capital University Law School professor told 10 Investigates that Ohio is somewhat unique in this area of the law.
Most states allow a charge for "felony murder" if the criminal directly causes the victim to die, said Professor Jack Guttenberg.
Guttenberg said the robber could only be convicted if a jury decided the accident was a foreseeable consequence of the robbery.
"I think it's probably foreseeable but, that's a jury question," Guttenberg said. "You never know what a jury would do.”
Ohio State Highway Patrol officials said the crash was the deadliest in Ohio this year.
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