Hero Down: Springdale Police Officer Kaia Grant Killed By Fleeing Suspect
Springdale, OH – Springdale Police Department (SPD) Officer Kaia Grant was killed in the line of duty on Saturday, after a fleeing suspect intentionally slammed into her patrol vehicle as she was attempting to deploy tire-deflating devices on the interstate.
The events leading up to the 33-year-old officer’s death began at approximately 8 p.m. on March 19, when 42-year-old Terry Blankenship broke into his estranged wife’s Blanchester home and pointed a gun at her boyfriend, the News Journal reported.
The boyfriend managed to call 911 before he and the gunman got into a physical altercation, Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt said.
Blankenship “pistol-whipped” the male victim and allegedly threatened suicide by cop before he fled the scene, the News Journal reported.
The department immediately notified area law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for the armed suspect, and cautioned that he had threatened to have officers kill him.
Blanchester police also contacted Clinton County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Andrew McCoy at home and were able to obtain approval to charge Blankenship with aggravated burglary.
Law enforcement officers in multiple jurisdictions attempted to locate Blankenship all day on March 20, but were unsuccessful, the News Journal reported.
At approximately 8 p.m. on Saturday, Elwood police spotted the wanted suspect and attempted to pull him over, WXIX reported.
Blankenship refused to stop and led officers on a pursuit on Interstate 75 northbound and onto Interstate 275 eastbound, police said.
Officer Grant and Springdale Police Sergeant Andrew Davis monitored the situation over the radio and headed out to intercept the fleeing suspect, WXIX reported.
As Blankenship was nearing Winton Road, Officer Grant and Sgt. Davis got out of their patrol vehicles and began pulling stop sticks out onto the roadway to deflate his tires, according to WKRC.
The suspect was traveling at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour during the chase, WXIX reported.
While the officers were outside their cruisers, Blankenship intentionally crashed his truck into their vehicles, which then hit the officers, according to WKRC.
“It’s our belief that Mr. Blankenship purposefully diverted his course of travel to purposefully strike our officers,” SPD spokesperson Officer Keenan Riordan told WXIX.
Officer Grant and Sgt. Davis both suffered injuries during the crash, but Officer Grant received the brunt of the impact.
She was flown to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead, WXIX reported.
Sgt. Davis, a 30-year veteran-of-the-force, was rushed to Bethesda North Hospital, where he was treated and released.
Blankenship was seriously injured in the collision and remained hospitalized on Sunday, according to Officer Riordan.
His handgun was recovered at the scene, and he is expected to face charges in connection with killing Officer Grant.
Blankenship’s criminal history includes one prior assault arrest and four prior domestic violence arrests, according to the News Journal.
Those five cases resulted in him being convicted on just two counts of disorderly conduct, Chief Reinbolt noted.
Officer Grant served the SPD for eight years.
“Our officers used their vehicles as shields,” Officer Riordan said, according to WXIX. “Unfortunately, we never expected the suspect to what we believe deliberately ram the vehicles and use his own vehicle as a weapon. It’s just a really, really unfortunate time for us, for sure.”
Chief Reinbolt said that Officer Grant died while protecting citizens from a community entirely separate from the one she served, the News Journal reported.
“Springdale police officer Kaia Grant was killed in her effort to apprehend Blankenship,” the Blanchester police chief said. “Our hearts are heavy with grief for her, her fellow officers and her family. She died protecting the citizens of Blanchester, people she had never met. Words cannot express our gratitude.”
Springdale Police Chief Thomas Wells described the young officer as “dynamic” during a press conference on Sunday, WKRC reported.
“She was kind of one of those people that you knew when you met her, this is somebody we need. This is somebody who is going to make a difference in our community,” Chief Wells explained.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has ordered all state and U.S. flags be lowered to half-staff in honor of Officer Grant, the News Journal reported.
“The void created by this officer’s sacrifice can never be filled and will never be forgotten,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a statement to WKRC. “My deepest condolences are with the Springdale community.”
Officer Grant is survived by her parents, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Springdale Police Department Officer Kaia Grant, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.