Pennsylvania State Police Say They've Found Cop-Killing Suspect's Rifle

State police found the rifle they believe was used to kill a western Pennsylvania police officer, but it wasn't where the suspect charged in the shooting said he lost it.

The suspect, Ray Shetler Jr., 31, had told police he lost the rifle while swimming across a river during a six-hour manhunt that followed the Saturday night shooting of St. Clair Township Officer Lloyd Reed.

Shetler "fled the scene on foot and swam across the Conemaugh River where he lost the 270 rifle which he used to shoot the officer," the criminal complaint said.

But Trooper Stephen Limani, a police spokesman, said Tuesday that the .270-caliber Remington rifle gun was found in some woods, hidden under some leaves in thick brush, nearly a mile east of the river. The gun was found relatively close to where troopers arrested Shetler without incident about 3:15 a.m. Sunday as he walked along a rural highway a few miles from the New Florence residence where Reed was shot.

A bloody hooded sweat shirt with three holes in it and live rounds of ammunition in a front pocket, were found with the rifle. The gun was hidden near a path police believe Shetler used while fleeing police, Limani said.

Police contend Shetler shot the 54-year-old officer after Reed responded to a domestic dispute called in by Shetler's girlfriend. Shetler has told police he shot Reed, but didn't realize Reed was an officer and fired only in self-defense after Reed shot first.

Police believe Shetler fired three shots from the bolt-action rifle, one of which killed Reed, who fired six shots at Shetler. Another officer fired a single shot. Police don't dispute that Reed may have fired first but said he was justified because Shetler was allegedly arguing with and moving toward Reed while carrying the rifle.

Shelter, who was hit in the shoulder by one shot, was treated at a hospital, but has since been jailed on a single charge of criminal homicide.

In Pennsylvania, that's an umbrella charge, meaning prosecutors could try to convict Shetler of several slaying crimes ranging from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter. The murder charge carries life in prison or the possible death penalty if prosecutors choose to pursue it; the manslaughter charge is a misdemeanor carrying up to five years in prison.

Online court records don't list an attorney for Shetler, who faces a preliminary hearing Dec. 11.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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