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Driver accused in Lansing firefighter's death charged with open murder

Suspect accused of intentionally hitting Dennis Rodeman with pickup truck

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LANSING, Mich. – A 22-year-old man has been charged with open murder in the death of a Lansing firefighter who was hit by a pickup truck while he was collecting money for charity.

Grant Taylor is accused of intentionally running down 35-year-old Dennis Rodeman on Wednesday.

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Taylor also is charged with failing to stop at the scene of a personal injury accident causing death, and two counts of fleeing and eluding.

Rodeman was participating in an annual "Fill the Boot" fundraising campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters when he was hit about 3:40 p.m. Wednesday.

Lansing police Capt. Jim Kraus said there was some type of traffic altercation before Rodeman was struck by the pickup.

Kraus said the driver "was upset for whatever reason," and that a preliminary investigation shows "he deliberately hit the firefighter who was standing in the road collecting for the charity."

Rodeman was wearing a reflective vest and other gear and was standing in the road's center turning lane.

He was married two months ago, and he and his wife were expecting their first child, Fire Chief Randy Talifarro said.

Rodeman was a seven-year veteran of the Lansing Fire Department. His Facebook page says he was a Marine veteran who served in Iraq. He studied at Western Michigan and Michigan State.

An online fund has been started: Lansing Hero Dennis Rodeman

Statement from Mayor Virg Bernero:

"On behalf of the Lansing Fire Department and the City of Lansing, it is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of Fire Fighter Dennis Rodeman, a seven-year veteran of LFD, who was struck this afternoon by a hit-and-run driver in a senseless, unthinkable tragedy that has left all of us in a state of shock. We join the men and women of Lansing Fire and all citizens of Lansing in expressing our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues for this heartbreaking loss.

While his extraordinary life story will be told in the days ahead, we know that Fire Fighter Rodeman was also a veteran of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion of the 24th Marine Regiment, United States Marine Corps.  He served his country with great pride, bravery and ability, having survived a tour of duty in Fallujah, Iraq, one of the most dangerous places in the world.  It is beyond comprehension that this American hero lost his life on the streets of Lansing while collecting charitable contributions for children afflicted by muscular dystrophy.

May the memory of Lansing Fire Fighter and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Dennis Rodeman – a hero twice over – be forever etched in the hearts and minds of those who had the privilege of knowing him."