Trooper in critical condition, shooter dead in Brockway standoff|
Saturday, September 28, 2013
By Terry Whetstone Staff Writer
DUBOIS - Thursday afternoon, state police at DuBois and Jefferson County Drug Task Force were serving a search warrant at the home of Kenneth Lees Sr. at 1881 Cemetery Hill Road, Snyder Township, Jefferson County.
They knocked on the door and identified themselves, and Lees opened fire through a window.
Two of the bullets struck Trooper First Class Bradley Wilson, a 24-year veteran of the state police. One hit him in the neck and the other in the upper torso. He was immediately rendered incapacitated. Officers returned fire and pulled him to safety.
Trooper Bruce Morris, public information officer; Bernard Petrovsky, station commander of state police at DuBois; and Jefferson County District Attorney Jeffrey Burkett held a press conference at the DuBois police barracks and they said Wilson, stationed at the state police at DuBois, was transported by ambulance, which was standing by, to DuBois Regional Medical Center, where he was stabilized. He was then transported via medical helicopter to UPMC Altoona, where he underwent emergency surgery. He was then transported to UPMC in Pittsburgh for additional treatment. He is listed in critical condition at this time.
The Brockway schools were locked down and police surrounded the building and set up a perimeter around the scene they suspected was not safe. This meant neighbors had to be evacuated and the streets in town were shut down until they could safely gain access to the home.
At 1 a.m., the state police special emergency response team made entry to the Lees home, where they found Lees, 60, the only occupant of the home at the time, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Around 9:35 p.m. Thursday, police put out a "Be On the Lookout (BOLO)" for Kenneth Lees Jr., who was said to be headed to his home at 1881 Cemetery Hill Road.
Petrovsky said a short time later his vehicle was spotted and a chase ensued in the Brockway area. Stop sticks were used to get him to stop, which did their job.
Once he was stopped, police said he got out of the vehicle and fled, and a foot chase ensued. One officer fell down an embankment and suffered a back injury. He was treated and released from DRMC.
Burkett said charges include aggravated assault and another felony charge.
"Charges are mere allegations and everyone is presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law," Burkett said.
According to the Penn State University website, Lees Jr. is an undergrad student in chemistry at the University Park campus.
Burkett said he appreciates the selfless acts of the other troopers who risked their lives to get Wilson to safety.
"We're in mourning right now," Petrovsky said. "This is a huge loss for us."
He said Wilson is expected to be in the hospital for quite a while, and he asked everyone to keep him in their prayers.
Burkett said the police response was amazing.
"When I was escorted to the scene, it took my breath away," Burkett said. "The number of police officers from all around was amazing."
He said in his 16 years as district attorney, he has never had a situation like what happened Thursday and he hopes he never has one again.
Responding to the scene were state police, Jefferson County Emergency Management, Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Brockway police, Brookville police, Sykesville police, Reynoldsville police, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, Punxsutawney police, Sandy Township police, Brockway Ambulance, DuSan AmServe Ambulance and Brockway Fire Department.
"We rely on our volunteers to help us out," Petrovsky said. "We appreciate them being there for us."
The scene was still secured yesterday and police expected it to be until late in the evening.
Police were planning to search the home due to a suspected meth lab; however, Petrovsky would not say what was found in the home and he said it's an ongoing investigation and he could not divulge some information, as it could hamper the investigation.
"We know there's a drug problem," Petrovsky said. "We won't give up."