Dearborn man arrested in cop-killing hit-and-run

Lt. Dan Kromer

Lt. Dan Kromer

By J. Patrick Pepper and Tom Tigani
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — A local man was arrested Thursday evening in connection with the hit-and-run death of Taylor Auxiliary Police Lt. Dan Kromer on Sept. 7.

Taylor police said they questioned three persons of interest after a dozen officers raided a house in the 3400 block of Westpoint about 5 p.m. Thursday; the other two were released. Taken from the house was a gold Chevrolet Cavalier that appeared to have damage consistent with how witnesses described damage to the car that struck Kromer. A 20-year veteran of the all-volunteer Taylor Auxiliary Police Department, Kromer was pronounced dead Tuesday night at Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center in Dearborn. The incident occurred at 8:59 p.m. Tuesday on the shoulder of westbound I-94 at Monroe in Taylor.

Police said Kromer, 54, was assisting a motorist on the shoulder of the freeway when he was struck by what witnesses said at the time was a white car. The hit-and-run vehicle fled west on I-94. Neither the occupants of the idle vehicle nor Kromer’s partner were injured.

Taylor police Lt. John Blair said officers received a tip Wednesday that led them to the Dearborn house.

“We put in a lot of hours and a couple of sleepless nights, and everything rounded out very well,” he said. “We believe we have a very solid case, and not a whole lot of room for discrepancy.”

Blair said he was expecting a warrant request to be issued Friday afternoon to Wayne County prosecutors, and that the man they arrested was expected to be arraigned by video yesterday.

Michigan State Police processed the crime scene and obtained biological evidence that helped identify the driver of the car that struck Kromer.

“It’s truly ‘CSI’ stuff,” Blair said.

He credited local media outlets for getting out the word leading to the tip that led to the arrest.

“It’s the result of media putting the information out, witnesses jumping in, and citizens driving down their street and seeing something that’s not right,” Blair said, declining to release information on the suspect until he is arraigned.

Given that Kromer is the second Taylor officer to be killed in action this summer, Blair said officers felt the need to find the person responsible as quickly as possible.

“We have another funeral,” he said. “We have another officer to lay to rest, and we didn’t want that hanging over the family’s head. It helps with the closure knowing that the person still isn’t out there.”

Kromer was the first Taylor Auxiliary officer killed in the line of duty. An auxiliary officer of the year early in his career, he was married and lived in Newport. Aside from volunteering with the auxiliary, he worked in federal protective services, guarding federal buildings.

Auxiliary Police Chief Ronald Vaughan described Kromer as a “gentle, quiet guy” who was well-liked by everyone in the department. He served as auxiliary gun range instructor and was promoted to lieutenant in May.

Officials say the Taylor Auxiliary Police is considered one of the finest volunteer municipal police agencies in Michigan. Its officers go through extensive training and are required to volunteer regularly in a variety of details deemed necessary to further the goals of the Taylor Police Department. Officers wear uniforms, carry weapons and drive in marked police cars.

Taylor Auxiliary Police officers check on homes during vacations, businesses, schools and city parks. They provide security and a police presence at city and church festivals, high school sporting events and many other events.

Kromer’s death comes just 46 days after the death of police Cpl. Matthew Edwards, who was shot and killed July 23 while investigating a reported burglary in the city. The former police officer of the year was the first Taylor officer killed in the line of duty.