Hamilton police say they have tracked down the truck they believe was used to chase and mow down a cyclist in the east end of the city back in July.
On Monday, investigators from the homicide unit seized a black Ford F150 pickup truck, the make of vehicle they say was used to kill 51-year-old Michael Sullivan. It’s now awaiting forensic analysis. Hamilton police could not immediately be reached to say if a suspect in the case is still at large.
Sullivan became the city's 10th homicide of the year when he died at Hamilton General Hospital on Saturday. The incident, and the frightening circumstances of a driver chasing downand deliberately hitting a cyclist, remained secret for almost three months. Police will not say specifically why no information was released to the public until now.
“Last week Michael's family made the tough decision to discontinue life support and on Saturday … Michael succumbed to his injuries,” Hamilton police said in a statement.
Sullivan was on his bike in the area of Barton Street East and Lottridge Street on July 29 around 2:30 p.m.
“While in the vicinity he had a brief interaction with some individuals and continued about his business,” according to a police statement. “This interaction led to some misinformation being passed to the driver of a black, Ford F150 pickup truck.” Det. Peter Thom would not specify what that "misinformation" was.
"I can't get into that, it's going to be part of the case," Thom told CBC Hamilton. "I can say the victim was totally innocent."
Police say the driver of the truck chased Sullivan through city streets and then around 2:55 p.m., pursued him into the rear lot of a Barton Street East restaurant supply store. The truck hit Sullivan and he flew off the bike, police say.
Jim McCluskey, the general manager at Barbers Restaurant Supply was the one who called 911. “We heard a truck going out there and screeching its tires,” McCluskey said. He originally chalked the incident up to street noise.
“Fifteen or 20 minutes later, one of the people who live around here came walking over and said ‘there’s some guy lying in your back parking lot there.’”
“I went out there and saw him and then called 911.”
McClusky says Sullivan was lying on the ground in his back lot, unconscious. “He looked seriously hurt,” he said. Police say he sustained a life-threatening head injury. Sullivan was being kept alive on life support until last weekend.
The driver of the truck sped off after hitting Sullivan and was last seen travelling eastbound on Barton Street, police say.
Investigators from the east end division were originally overseeing the case before the homicide unit took over, and they were the ones who decided not to release any information to the public, Thom says.
“It’s the strategic approach the original team took,” Thom said. “It depends on the circumstances case by case.”
Police spokesperson Const. Debbie McGreal-Dinning told CBC Hamilton that sometimes information is withheld from the public because it “would have jeopardized the integrity of the investigation."
"There were strong investigative reasons and a strategic motivation as to why the information was not released to the public," she said.
Thom couldn’t say whether or not the person who hit Sullivan is a risk to the public.
“It’s hard to say what set him off on that particular day,” he said. “It’s not the norm for a person to go to that extreme.”
Police and Sullivan’s family are appealing to anyone who has information connected to the incident to call police at 905-546-2920 or crime stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.