In Midst of National Gun Debate, Gunman Kills 3 in Rural Pennsylvania

Another week, another brutal murderous seemingly random shooting breaks America’s heart—this time in the central Pennsylvania community of Frankstown Township, where a man shot and killed three people, including a woman hanging Christmas decorations in church, and then he was killed in a shootout with Pennsylvania state troopers.

Troopers had not released an identity of the shooter, nor had any motives for three killings that appeared unrelated to each other.

The violence in this rural agricultural community about 40 miles southwest of Penn State University comes as the nation is grappling with the issue of whether to strengthen gun control laws after the shocking murder of 20 children and 7 adults in Newtown, Connecticut, by 20-year-old Adam Lanza.

The Pennsylvania crime appeared to be just as senseless. The gunman started out about 9 a.m. by shooting a woman in her 50s who was hanging decorations for a children’s Christmas party in the fellowship hall of Juniata Valley Gospel Church.

The gunman then shot a man in the driveway of his house and then struck another man on the road with his truck before shooting him dead.

Officers responding to 911 calls were met by the gunman, who fired at two passing squad cars. One of the officers was injured by flying glass but still was able to give chase. The suspect then smashed into a third squad car head-on, disabling both vehicles, according to Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said at a news conference on Friday.

The gunman got out of his truck, shooting the officer twice, in the wrist and chest. Bivens said a bulletproof vest minimized the injuries. Other troopers returned fire, killing the gunman, he said.

“We have three very fortunate state police members tonight,” Bivens said.

“I don’t believe you’re going to find any biological relationship between the (shooter) and the victims,” Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio said, adding the three victims “were not immediate family” of one another.

No explanation has been given for the bloodshed. “Some weapons” tied to the episode have been seized, though Bivens did not detail the type of firearms, how they had been obtained or how they were used Friday.

“It is safe to say there was more than one weapon seized from the crime scene,” he said.


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