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SPD believes suspect intentionally rammed cruiser, killing officer Grant

Posted at 10:11 PM, Mar 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-04 16:56:47-04

SPRINGDALE, Ohio — A Springdale police officer was killed and another injured when a suspect involved in a traffic pursuit crashed into police cruisers on Interstate 275 near State Route 4 Saturday night, according to police.

Springdale Police have identified the suspect as Terry Blankenship.

An official with the Springdale Police Department said the pursuit started from a traffic stop by Elmwood Place police -- Blankenship had a felony warrant out of Blanchester.

Blankenship fled officers on I-75 North at Paddock Road before getting on I-275 West. Springdale police officers were attempting to deploy stop sticks as he approached; that's when Springdale police believe the suspect intentionally rammed the police cruisers, which then hit the officers. The officers were outside of their cruisers when the crash happened.

The fallen officer is 33-year-old Kaia Grant, an eight-year veteran of the Springdale department who was born and raised in Wyoming, Ohio. The 2005 Wyoming High School graduate is the first Springdale officer killed in the line of duty, police said.

Grant was airlifted to UC Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. Her body was taken to the coroner's office in a procession of police cars around midnight.

Grant is the 10th area officer to die in the line of duty since 2000, according to the Police Museum website. It lists two other women – both jail matrons – killed on the job more than 100 years ago, Rosa A. Regan in 1908 and Anna M. Hart in 1916.

Police said they recovered a firearm from the crash scene.

Blankenship is currently in the hospital with pending charges.

WATCH Springdale police briefing:

"This is a deep tragedy for our city and our police officers and for Kaia's family, and I ask you to keep us in your thoughts and prayers," Springdale Police Chief Thomas Wells said at a post-midnight news briefing.

"I'm very sad, needless to say, that we lost an officer," Springdale Mayor Doyle Webster said, "but I'm sad that I never said to this officer, 'Thank you for your service.'

"I swore her in nine years ago," Webster added. "A lovely young lady ... great career ... great family. It's just an absolute tragedy, and a senseless one at that."

Grant is the first female police officer ever killed in the Greater Cincinnati area outside of jail duty, according to the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum, which posts a record of 205 local, state and federal officers who have fallen since 1845 on its website.

The injured officer, Sgt. Andrew Davis, a 30-year Springdale veteran, was transported to a hospital and released. The suspect was being treated at an area hospital.

Davis felt well enough to attend the news briefing.

"I thank God Andy is still with us tonight," Wells said.

Before becoming a police officer, Grant graduated from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 2009, and managed an after-school program for at-risk kids in Cincinnati for three years. She joined Springdale Police in 2012.

Wells thanked Springdale officers for coming together to support each other and also thanked other police departments for their assistance.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all US and Ohio flags be flown at half staff at public buildings in Hamilton County to honor officer Grant.

Webster said more details about the incident would be released "in the days to come."

The investigation is being handled by the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.