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Oh, Just Another Day in Central Pennsylvania

It was just another day in central Pennsylvania, until a gunman attacked a state police barracks, killing Trooper Jacques Rougeau Jr. and critically wounding Lt. James Wagner. The gunman, Brandon Stine, was later shot and killed himself after a manhunt and a fierce gun battle. Officials have yet to identify a motive for his actions.

Stine drove his truck into the parking lot of the Lewistown barracks in Juniata County and opened fire with a large-caliber rifle on marked patrol cars before fleeing. He appeared to be playing a “cat and mouse” game with authorities, calling 911 to give a location and then not being there when they arrived. “He seemed to be setting our people up for potential ambush,” said Lt. Col. George Bivens, deputy commissioner of operations.

Image credits: The Associated Press

Wagner encountered Stine in Mifflintown and was shot and critically wounded. People in the area went to his aid and used his radio to call for help, and emergency medical personnel arrived and took him to Lewistown Hospital, from which he was flown to Hershey Medical Center.

Later, Rougeau was ambushed and killed by a gunshot through the windshield of his patrol car as he drove down a road in nearby Walker Township. Police only found out that Rougeau had been shot immediately after the manhunt ended, and “he was beyond assistance at that point,” said Bivens.

Image credits: ABC News

Stine then escaped into a somewhat rural but still residential area and was seen driving through a field toward a store and small restaurant with patrons in the parking lot. Troopers put themselves in between the people and the suspect and forced him away from the business. After an exchange of gunfire, he drove through a yard and garden, finally getting stuck against a row of trees as police continued to engage him.

“What I witnessed was one of the most intense, unbelievable gunfights I have ever witnessed,” said Bivens, lauding troopers for launching an aggressive search despite the fact that they were facing a weapon that “would defeat any of the body armor that they had available to them.”

Rougeau, who was married, would have marked his third anniversary with the department later this month. Wagner, a 21-year veteran, is currently commander of the Bedford barracks, is a naval reservist and has three sons in the Coast Guard.

“At this point, there are no clear motives we can point to,” said Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Christopher Paris. “I’m struck by the level of violence … and I remain humbled and in awe of the way that our people rallied and brought the resources needed to bear to protect the community.”

Governor Josh Shapiro and Paris of the state police were at the hospital where the injured trooper was being treated Saturday night. Shapiro said both thanked his colleagues for their service and prayed for his recovery. The governor said he and first lady Lori Shapiro “send our love to the family of the trooper killed today. May his memory be a blessing.”

The Fraternal Order of Police Pennsylvania State is in mourning, but they remain committed to protecting the community and bringing justice to those responsible for this tragedy. It’s just another day in central Pennsylvania, but the community will never forget the sacrifice made by Trooper Jacques Rougeau Jr.


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