Police say masked suspect fired at trooper before being shot

Posted at 2:00 PM, Mar 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-29 14:00:39-04

FOGELSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A suspected shoplifter wearing a wig and lifelike mask shot once at a trooper in the parking lot of a Pennsylvania Walmart before the officer shot back and killed him, state police said Thursday.

Capt. Richard D'Ambrosio said store employees summoned police shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday because a loss prevention officer thought the man may have been the same person who pulled a gun on Walmart employees in a neighboring county a few weeks earlier.

The suspect abandoned a full cart after seeing a trooper had entered the store in Fogelsville, about 10 miles southwest of Allentown, to investigate.

D'Ambrosio said the man in his late 20s ran from the officer and pulled a gun out of his waistband, firing it once without hitting anyone.

"The trooper was yelling the entire time, 'State police, stop, stop,' so he was given more than enough notice that he was being chased by a police officer," D'Ambrosio said.

The suspect got into his vehicle and pointed the handgun at the trooper about 45 feet away, who then shot him through the door and window, striking him about seven times and killing him, police said.

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin said his preliminary review suggests the shooting by police was justified.

Authorities said much of the encounter was captured on store security cameras, inside and outside the building.

A loaded Glock .40-caliber handgun was recovered from the man's lap inside the car.

There will be an autopsy on the suspect, who was not immediately identified.

The trooper, a four-year veteran who also was not named by authorities, was placed on administrative duty while the shooting is investigated.

"Obviously he's fired up a little bit, but he's doing OK," D'Ambrosio said.

D'Ambrosio said the earlier incident occurred at a Walmart in Schuylkill County in early March.

In that case, a man was confronted by a loss prevention office before he displayed a gun. The store employees stepped away from him, and he left.

D'Ambrosio said investigators are "pretty sure," but are not certain, that was the same man killed on Wednesday.