NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A 3-year-old boy was struck by a car and killed Friday by a fugitive fleeing police, the Essex County prosecutor’s office said.

The incident took place at around 7:40 a.m. near 15th Avenue and South Seventh Street in Newark, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.

A Newark police fugitive unit had Troy Ruff, 22, under surveillance when Ruff recognized the officers and tried to drive off, the prosecutor’s office said.

Ruff’s Hyundai Sonata hit a car driving down 15th Avenue before mounting the curb and hitting Rahmere Tullis, killing him.

Rahmere was walking to day care with his mother when he was struck.

“The officers spotted a man wanted on a warrant and attempted to make a motor vehicle stop, which the suspect fled from and struck the child. Our officers are devastated and our hearts go out to the family,” the Newark Police Union said in a statement. “Suspects need to comply, and have their day in court. To flee or fight only puts others at risk, and as shown today, can create an  unimaginable tragedy.”

“It involved a fugitive apprehension team as well as the Newark Police Department. I understand there was not an excess of speed, but the gentlemen pulled around when he recognized that he was being followed,” said Bishop Jethro James. “So many people want to make it a high-speed chase, but from what I know that’s not what occurred.”

Rahmere’s step mother told 1010 WINS’ Rebecca Granet they rushed to the scene as soon as they heard about the crash.

“We knew it was something because an officer ended up telling us he’s under the car,” she said tearfully.

“Now my son had to pay with his life and I have to pay with not seeing my son for the rest of my life,” Rahmere’s father, Cordell Tullis, said. “My son was the sweetest child in the world.”

Tullis placed part of the blame on police.

“They should never been chasing that man like that,” he said. “That would never have happened. My son would still be here.”

(credit: NYPD)

(credit: NYPD)

Police chases are a sore subject for many in Newark.

Rahmere is the fifth person injured or killed in connection with police pursuits in the city in the last three weeks, Aiello reported.

The Essex County prosecutor promised a full review of the circumstances, including the actions of police.

“This tragedy touches us on so many levels and the loss of young Rahmere is felt in our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities and throughout Newark,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement. “The way in which his life was taken is not just a crime against the laws of the land but a crime against humanity.”

Ruff is in custody. He was wanted on aggravated assault and weapons charges, prosecutors said. He now faces additional charges of aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide and eluding the police.

Bail was set at $500,000.

The investigation continues. Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at (877) 847-7432 or (973) 621-4586.

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