Dennis Rodeman, 35, was hit and killed by a driver in a pickup truck on Wednesday

By Char Adams
Updated September 10, 2015 02:30 PM
Credit: Delta Township Fire Department

One suspect is in custody after a Michigan firefighter was struck and killed by a pickup truck yesterday in what police believe was an intentional hit-and-run, reports.

Dennis Rodeman, a seven-year veteran of the Lansing Fire Department, was standing near an intersection in Lansing’s south side, collecting money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters, when he was hit, after which the driver fled the scene, according to the Lansing State Journal.

Rodeman died about three hours later.

Police say they believe the crash was intentional, noting that there was a verbal exchange beforehand between the suspect, a 22-year-old man, and Rodeman, who served in the U.S. Marines in Iraq, according to reports. Lansing Police Capt. Jim Kraus told the Lansing State Journal that “the suspect came by, was upset for whatever reason (and) circled back around” before hitting Rodeman.

Lansing Police Chief Michael Yankowski told reporters, “We believe that this was not an accident and that the actions of this individual were intentional.”

Rodeman wore a reflective vest and other gear as he stood near the intersection of Cedar Street and Jolly Road along with the other firefighters. A witness told The Journal, “He literally tried to hit him.”

The suspect led police on a car and foot chase before being taken into custody. The AP reports that the suspect could be arraigned on charges Thursday afternoon and is being held on suspicion of murder and felony fleeing and eluding.

“This is a shocking and unthinkable tragedy ” Mayor Virg Bernero said at a press conference, according to the AP. “Dennis was cut down in an instant, doing what he loved, what he believed in, what he believed in most: helping other people.”

Fire Chief Randy Talifarro told the Associated Press that Rodeman was married for two months, and that he and his wife were expecting their first child.

Talifarro described the firefighter as a “highly regarded individual,” and his work record as “unblemished.” He added that Rodeman “was a joy to work around.”

The Lansing Fire Department and Lansing Police Department Detective Lee McCallister did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.

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