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Hill is only the second U.S. Marshal killed in the history of Pennsylvania

Written by Rick Lee/The York Daily Record | Jan 19, 2018 6:38 PM
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Deputy U.S. Marshal Christopher D. Hill, 45, of Conewago Township, was killed in the line of duty while serving a warrant Jan. 18 in Harrisburg. (Photo: Submitted)

(York) -- Deputy U.S. Marshal Christopher David Hill was the first marshal to be killed in the line of duty in Pennsylvania since 1851.

And the man who was killed 167 years hardly holds up as a hero today.  Edward Gorsuch, a slave-catcher from Baltimore, had been deputized as part of a posse that was attempting to capture two slaves who had fled from Maryland, according to the U.S. Marshals Service Roll Call of Honor.

In Christiana, a small Lancaster County borough, a group of Quakers, freed slaves and abolitionists confronted the posse. Shots were exchanged and Gorsuch, deputized for just two days, was killed. The fatal encounter went down in history as the Christiana Riots.

Hill, 45, of Conewago Township in York County, was an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Marshals Service. He was part of the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group, an elite, nationwide SWAT-style tactical arm of the agency.

Shot and killed on Thursday in Harrisburg, Hill was accompanied at the time by York City Police Officer Kyle Pitts, who was shot in the arm during the incident. Pitts has been assigned to the U.S. Marshals Task Force for two years.

The U.S. Marshals Service, arguably could be viewed as being on the side of the prosecution.

But, federal public defender Heidi R. Freese, who formerly worked as a defense attorney in York County, said that Hill also treated defendants with respect and dignity.

"Chris Hill was an extraordinary public servant,"  Freese said on Friday.

"Chris found the silver lining in every situation and he approached each day with a smile, and was always the voice of encouragement. And that's how I will remember him -- with a smile on his face."

Freese said Hill helped out each year to organize the Harrisburg federal building's Bring Your Child to Work Day.

"Chris was always eager to help and selflessly gave of his time," Freese said. "He loved to talk with the children about life as a U.S. Deputy Marshal, and he was always looking for new and fun ways to educate the kids about federal law enforcement.

The U.S. Marshals Service has 60 task forces nationwide, using local deputy sheriffs and police officers such as Pitts to track down and arrest fugitives.

The task force that is based in Harrisburg also covers York County and includes officers from the York City Police Department and deputies from the York County Sheriff's Department.

Just within the last three months, that task force was responsible for the arrests of a suspected killer, a Megan's Law violator and an alleged child molester wanted in Texas-- all captured in York, and a man wanted for a Lebanon County homicide who was located and captured in the Bronx, N.Y.

In 2016, the most recent year with complete numbers, the U.S. Marshals Service served 107,933 warrants, of which 79,930 where state or local warrants, and arrested 88,432 people.

The Marshals Service was created by the Judiciary Act of 1789.

Since then 263 marshals and deputy marshals, including Hill, have been killed in the line of duty. The first was Robert Forsyth of Georgia, who was shot through a door while trying to serve court papers on Jan. 11, 1794.

 

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record

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