GEESEYTOWN - State police shot and killed a Hollidaysburg man Friday morning after a shooting rampage over a two-mile stretch left three victims dead and three troopers injured.
The victims were Kimberly A. Scott, 58 of Duncansville, who was killed while putting up decorations for a children's Christmas party at the Juniata Valley Gospel Church around 9 a.m. Friday, along with William Rhodes and his father-in-law, Kenneth Lynn, sources told the Altoona Mirror.
After racing to the scene, police killed the gunman, Jeffrey Lee Michael, 44, of Hollidaysburg - but not before being shot at themselves.
Photo by J.D. CAVRICH/Altoona Mirror
Local law enforcement block off road along U.S. 22 near the Canoe Creek State Park while investigating a shooting on Friday near Geesytown in Blair County. The suspect fired at troopers responding to Friday morning’s shootings in Frankstown Township. The fleeing gunman then crashed head-on into a trooper’s car and got out of his truck and shot again at police, who returned fire and killed him. Blair County District Rich Consiglio says the gunman killed two men and one woman.
As of late Friday night, police had not officially confirmed the identity of the victims or the shooter.
After he killed Scott by firing shots into the church, Michael drove along Juniata Valley Road, where he killed Rhodes, and then after crashing head-on into Lynn, Michael shot and killed his third victim.
By 9 a.m., dispatchers had received 911 calls indicating multiple shootings.
As two state cruisers approached, Michael, waiting in or near his truck, shot through their windshields.
Bullet fragments and glass struck a trooper's face and eyes, while another was shot in the chest and wrist. The trooper's bulletproof vest likely saved his life, a state police official said hours after the shooting.
Despite their wounds, the troopers swung their cars back to face the gunman while a third cruiser crashed into Michael's truck, injuring another officer.
With both vehicles disabled, Michael left his truck and fired on the troopers.
Troopers returned fire, killing him.
"We have seized some weapons ... It's safe to say there was more than one weapon," state police Deputy Commissioner Lt. Col. George Bivens said at a press conference hours after the rampage.
Police declined to identify the guns he used.
With Michael dead, investigating officers discovered the scope of the five crime scenes, spanning several miles on Juniata Valley Road.
"It was then discovered that there were three deceased persons at three locations," Troop G spokesman Trooper Jeff Petucci said.
Bivens acknowledged that there may be witnesses at at least one crime scene, though he said police aren't yet certain what the witnesses saw.
Another woman, decorating the church with Scott, was unharmed after Michael opened fire through a window.
The state troopers were released from Altoona Regional, Bivens said.
"We have three very fortunate state police members tonight," Bivens said. "Someone was watching over them."
After shooting Scott, Michael then went to a nearby house and shot Rhodes outside, a cousin of one of the male victims told the Mirror. Both male victims were the shooter's neighbors in Geeseytown, the cousin said.
On Friday, police said it was too early to discuss Michael's motive or possible relationships with his victims.
State police investigators from as far as Philipsburg and Rockview rushed to Geeseytown to assist, Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio said.
Police from departments throughout the county stood guard over both entrances to Juniata Valley Road, which runs through mountainous woodland and connects at both ends with Route 22.
"This, to me, is one of the largest crime investigations ... I've seen," Consiglio said.
It's been seven years since Blair County's last triple murder, he noted. Miguel Padilla murdered three people outside the UVA Club in Altoona in August 2005.
With investigators poring over the crime scenes, the search for evidence could be lengthy, police said. Troopers declined to discuss whether Michael left any notes or messages before the killing spree.
Victims' families and news media from across the state gathered at the small Geeseytown fire hall, where counselors met with relatives behind closed doors. The attention - with TV satellite trucks arrayed around the hall - was unprecedented for the tiny village.
Those living on Juniata Valley Road were allowed to leave, police said, but as of Friday evening, police hadn't allowed residents to return to their homes.
A prayer service and vigil for the deceased and community affected by the shooting is scheduled for 7 p.m. today at Geeseytown Lutheran Church, Route 22 and Juniata Valley Road, the Rev. Elizabeth Hess said.
Additional parking will be available at the parking lots beside the Geeseytown Community Fire Company's station.