A man who allegedly robbed a Rockland convenience store and stole a police car before State Police fatally shot him in a stand-off Friday had a troubled past that family believed he had put behind him.
Eric M. Leach, 36, allegedly robbed a 7-Eleven at gunpoint, hopped in a Rockland police cruiser, and led law enforcement on a chase through six communities, according to Rockland police and the Norfolk district attorney.
After a standoff in Quincy, Leach allegedly got out of the cruiser with a police patrol rifle and a State Police trooper shot him once, killing him, officials said.
Leach had recently been on probation for shooting an 8-year-old Brockton girl in 2012, according to Plymouth Superior Court documents.
In 2015, Leach pleaded guilty to five charges in the 2012 case, including assault and battery and firearms violations, court documents show. He was sentenced to three to five years in prison, including time he had already served, with three years of probation beginning in 2017, according to court documents.
A family member said he was stunned by Friday’s incident, saying Leach, who was divorced and had two children, had put past troubles behind him.
“Unbelievable,” Leach’s foster brother, Mario Zona, 43, of Saugus, said in a phone interview Saturday. “It’s not something that he would do.”
Zona said his mother took Leach into their Winthrop home as a 3-year-old foster child and that while Leach had “a little trouble in life growing up,” Leach “always tried. He was very loyal. He was loved by a lot of people.”
Zona said the 2012 incident was an accident and called previous run-ins with the law “stupid little adolescent stuff.”
In recent years, Leach had grown into a funny, loyal father of two children and worked as a laborer installing pools, but was out of work because of the pandemic, Zona said. Now, his family is struggling to understand what happened.
“We’re just trying to put the pieces together,” Zona said.
Lucas Phillips can be reached at email@example.com.