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Friendly fire killed deputy Marshal Christopher Hill during Harrisburg raid

Written by Anthony Machcinski and Rick Lee/York Daily Record | Mar 1, 2018 6:06 PM

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Christopher Hill, the U.S. Marshal who died in a police-involved shootout in Harrisburg in January, was killed as a result of friendly fire, according to Dauphin County officials.

"Deputy Marshal Hill died a hero," Francis T. Chardo, District Attorney of Dauphin County said in a statement Thursday. "And the results of this investigation do not in any way diminish the heroism exhibited by the other members of the team that day."

Hill was killed Jan. 18 while serving a warrant for an arrest in Harrisburg.

Around 6:30 a.m., Hill and other members of a task force served a warrant for Shayla Lynette Pierce at a home in the area of South 18th and Mulberry streets in Harrisburg. During the arrest, Pierce's boyfriend, Kevin Surgis, yelled down from the second floor "are you looking for me?" officials said.

Sturgis' first shot struck a task force member in the elbow. In response, another task force member returned fire towards Sturgis.

One of the bullets fired in self-defense passed through a wall and struck Hill.

Sturgis exited the house through the front door, firing on deputies and striking one of them in the ballistic vest. Task force members then "justifiably used deadly force upon Sturgis to end the threat," Chardo said.

A subsequent investigation showed that Sturgis was wanted in connection with the shooting of a pregnant woman in Philadelphia, Chardo said.

"Sturgis is responsible for both his own death and the death of Deputy United States Marshal Christopher Hill," Chardo said. "Sturgis maliciously and unnecessarily set in motion the exchange of gunfire that led to both deaths."

Michelle Coghill, U.S. Marshals spokeswoman said that the FBI's findings do not take away Hill's heroism during the raid.

"Deputy Hill made the ultimate sacrifice while executing a lawful arrest warrant on a female suspect wanted for terroristic threats," Coghill said. "He died a hero while protecting his community from dangerous criminals like the female defendant and the male assailant who opened fire on his team."

The U.S. Marshal Service will conduct a thorough review of the FBI report to "determine whether there are any lessons to be learned which we may be appropriate to re-emphasize in training," Coghill said.

Hill is the first U.S. Marshal killed in the line of duty in Pennsylvania since 1851.

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. He was a father of two and a U.S. Army veteran.

Officer Kyle Pitts, a 10-year veteran of the York City Police force, was shot in the elbow during the raid. Pitts has not returned to work and still has medical issues stemming from the shooting, according to York City Police Chief Troy Bankert.

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

Published in Harrisburg, News

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