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Police: Man killed in shoot-out had history of mental health issues

Written by Ted Czech/The York Daily Record | Apr 25, 2017 9:12 AM
police_shooting_york_county.jpg

A man who shot at state police troopers in Hopewell Township early Monday morning died from his injuries after police returned fire, officials said. (Photo: Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record)

State police had been to the Hopewell Township home twice for mental health issues

(Undated) -- As State Police troopers pulled up to a home in Hopewell Township early Monday morning, Robert Becker walked out and began firing, Trooper Brett Miller said.

The troopers returned fire, killing Becker, 79.

Becker, who police said was suffering from mental health issues, called York County 911 about 3:37 a.m. Monday, threatening violence against law enforcement, emergency personnel, and "anybody that showed up at his residence," Miller said.

He said troopers had responded to Becker's home twice in the past for mental health issues, but he did not know the time-frame or details of either of the responses.

A man who shot at state police troopers early Monday morning died from his injuries after police returned fire, officials said. TED CZECH

 

About 4:05 a.m., troopers arrived at Becker's home in the 200 block of Hollow Road and as they pulled up, Becker began firing, Miller said.

Police are not releasing information on how many shots were fired by Becker or state police.

"Four troopers have been placed on administrative duty," Miller said. "They were involved in the incident; it doesn't necessarily mean they fired shots."

Miller said there are two simultaneous investigations -- an internal affairs investigation out of the Harrisburg barracks, and a major crimes shooting investigation out of the Carlisle barracks.

They are standard for an incident such as this, "to make sure the proper use of force was utilized," Miller said.

Becker was the only one home at the time of the incident; Miller was not sure if anyone else lived with him.

An autopsy will be performed at Lehigh Valley Hospital on Wednesday morning. Becker's next-of-kin had been notified of his death, according to York County Coroner Pam Gay.

No troopers were injured in the incident.

Quiet neighborhood

Several hours after the shoot-out, Pennsylvania State Police remained on-scene, gathering in front of Becker's home, and periodically walking in and out through the front door.

Fire police blocked off roads leading to the home and closer to it, Hollow Road was cordoned off with yellow tape.

The Stewartstown-area neighborhood, populated with standalone mid-sized homes and numerous trees, was silent that morning. Hollow Road resident Donna Kerns said the only thing illegal that ever happens around there is someone speeding through the area.

Kerns said the incident was "too close to home. It's crazy."

She added that she was asleep when the shoot-out occurred, but that her husband, David Kerns, who was up around 3 a.m. to go to work, heard it, and then told her later by phone.

"He thought it was kids playing with fireworks," at first, she said.

Kerns said she did not know Becker personally.

"Neighbors are pretty quiet; we all stay to ourselves," she said. "It's usually come out of the house, say 'how you doing,' and that's it."

Nearby Hollow Road resident Denny Miser said he was "very sad" to hear of Becker's death but like Kerns, did not know him personally. Miser's wife, Karen Jarboe, said she heard the shots around 4 a.m.

"I didn't even move," she said. "It's a very distinctive sound. This is a big deal here ... nothing happens in this neighborhood."

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

 


 

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