Bradenton police: Kidnapping, shooting fatality case closed

jdeleon@bradenton.comJune 12, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The Bradenton Police Department concluded its investigation Wednesday into a kidnapping that led to an officer shooting and killing the suspect.

Police discovered a 37-year-old Georgia woman was being held in Bradenton against her will by Craig Rodgers, 40, Saturday afternoon after receiving several calls from a relative of the victim. She was also reportedly beaten by the kidnapper.

Rodgers fled when police located the house where the woman was being held on the 300 block of 20th Street East. Three blocks away, Bradenton police investigator John Morningstar caught up to Rodgers in the backyard of a home on the 800 block of Manatee Avenue East.

When Rodgers challenged Morningstar with a long, metal pole, the police investigator fired one shot into his chest, killing him, police said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is still investigating the shooting, but the kidnapping case has been

closed by the BPD.

"The criminal investigation has been concluded," Deputy Chief Warren Merriman said. "Detectives interviewed other subjects that were at thecrime scene and no charges will be filed."

The kidnapping victim, a mother of five, is recovering from her injuries at an undisclosed location after being released from a local hospital.

Morningstar, 29, remains on paid administrative leave, typical in cases involving an officer using deadly force.

"Taking someone's life never easy," Merriman said.

Morningstar, with the department since July 16, 2007, has been sent to counseling.

He will return when they deem he is ready to return, Morningstar said.

In nearly six years with the BPD, Morningstar has never used deadly force before. In 2010, however, he was given a performance infraction for improper use of his Taser when he fired it at a suspect through an open window as he tried to flee in a car.

Among his many recognitions, in March 2012, Morningstar was awarded the Community/Human Services Award for his work in 2009, which included 86 arrests and 368 traffic stops resulting in 113 traffic citations.

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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