FAIRCHANCE, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania state trooper was critically injured when he was shot by a suspect in a robbery investigation before officers returned fire killing the shooter, state police said Saturday.
A second trooper also was shot by the suspect Friday night outside a grocery store in Fairchance. The officer was treated at a hospital and released, authorities said.
The suspect was identified as 26-year-old Clarence Belsar III. District Attorney Richard Bower said Belsar had a felony criminal record that included a requirement he report as a sex offender.
Authorities said the troopers had arranged a meeting via Facebook with a person selling a video game console they suspected had been taken in a string of robberies in Uniontown and Waynesburg. They said the officers met Belsar outside the Stop ‘n Save in Fairchance, about 52 miles (84 kilometers) south of Pittsburgh, and identified themselves as police officers.
Police said the suspect began to walk way and ignored the officers’ commands to stop before a struggle ensued as the troopers tried to arrest him. Belsar pulled a .38 caliber revolver from his waistband and fired a shot that injured one trooper in the hand and struck the other in the abdomen, police said. Both troopers then returned fire, killing Belsar, authorities said.
State police Capt. Joseph Ruggery said at a news conference Saturday that the trooper who was critically injured remained hospitalized at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia, but is expected to recover. “His prognosis is good,” Ruggery said.
He also thanked people who were on the scene for their “selflessness and bravery” in trying to help the officers.
“It should be noted that multiple witnesses were present in the immediate vicinity and several disregarded their own personal safety to approach the wounded troopers and attempt to render first aid to them,” Ruggery said.
The officers’ names were not released. They will be on administrative duty, pending the outcome of the district attorney’s investigation. According to Ruggery, witnesses said they heard the troopers identifying themselves as police officers and giving Belsar repeated commands.
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