News

State Police: Retired trooper killed 2 at Turnpike interchange

Written by Vicky Taylor/Chambersburg Public Opinion | Mar 21, 2016 3:34 AM
tunrpike_shooting.jpg

Courtesy PA Internet News Service

(Fort Littleton) -- A retired Pennsylvania State Police trooper shot and killed two people at a Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange early Sunday morning, and soon after was fatally shot by police as they exchanged gunfire as he attempted to steal money from an armored vehicle.

Police said Clarence Briggs, 55, of Newville, killed Danny Crouse, 55, and Ronald Heist, 71, at the Fort Littleton interchange.

Crouse was a turnpike employee who had been on the job just three months, and Heist was employed by a Shaad, a turnpike contractor, authorities said. Heist was also a retired York City police officer.

Briggs was killed soon after shooting Crouse and Heist, while exchanging gunfire with police who responded to the scene.

According to authorities speaking at a press conference, the incident began around daybreak at 7 a.m. when Briggs confronted two employees working at a toll booth at the interchange, forced them into a nearby office building and attempted to tie them up. A struggle ensued, and Briggs fled the scene, authorities said. The employees got loose and followed Briggs outside.

At that time, the Schaad armored vehicle arrived at the interchange. Crouse, one of the two employees that Briggs had first encountered, approached the vehicle and Heist got out of the vehicle. Briggs allegedly confronted the two men and fatally shot them, authorities said.

Briggs continued shooting at the armored vehicle. The driver got out and was able to escape on foot.

Briggs then got into the armored vehicle and drove it a short distance across Pa. 522 to an area where his own vehicle was parked. He began unloading money from the armored vehicle to his vehicle, authorities said.

The first trooper to arrive at the scene encountered Briggs from a distance, and the two exchanged gunfire. Briggs was shot, and died at the scene, according to authorities.

Authorities said Briggs retired from PSP in January 2012 with 26 years of service. He was assigned to Troop T, which patrols the turnpike, at the time of his retirement.

Turnpike chairman Sean Logan said commissioners and other officials were "deeply saddened by this horrific tragedy."

"The Commonwealth, Turnpike and Pennsylvania State Police will expend all resources necessary to find out exactly what happened and why," he said at the press conference.

Capt. David L. Cain, commander of PSP Troop H, said a toll collector who witnessed the shootings spent much of Sunday with investigators and had been sent home to rest by the time the press conference was called Sunday afternoon.

"She's a tough woman... we told her to take a day or two off but I'm sure she will be back at work soon," Logan said. "We have a family that is resilient, and we will get through this."

He said that the turnpike family, including troopers from Troop H who patrol the turnpike, investigate accidents and other incidents on the turnpike, were in shock and were grieving, but doing the jobs they have to do every day.

Both Logan and Cain said that as of Sunday afternoon, authorities really didn't know why Briggs tried to rob the armored vehicle.

Gov. Tom Wolf offered his sympathy to the victims of the shooting, saying, "What happened this morning was tragic and a senseless act of violence, and the victims and their families and colleagues are in Frances' and my thoughts and prayers."

As a result of the shootings, the interchange at exit 180 was shut down to all traffic in both directions, and isn't expected to be opened until possibly as late as 9 a.m. Monday morning, according to Logan. The interchange is about 20 miles east of Breezewood and 20 miles north of McConnellsburg.

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and Public Opinion Online.

Published in News

Tagged under , , , , , , , , , , ,

back to top

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »