Indiana County man, 55, killed by troopers

He pulled gun in domestic dispute


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BRUSH VALLEY, Pa. -- What started with a domestic dispute ended with one man dead.

A Pennsylvania State Police trooper shot and killed 55-year-old Gary L. Wissinger after he aimed a handgun at police in front of his Indiana County home early Monday morning.

The situation began around midnight, when state police were called to the Wissinger home, 5395 Route 56 East in Brush Valley, for a domestic disturbance.

When they arrived, Mr. Wissinger emerged from his home brandishing a gun, Trooper John Matchik said.

"He then lifted the gun and pointed it at one of the two troopers on the scene," Trooper Matchik said. "At that time our troopers opened fire."

Police have not released how many shots were fired. A neighbor, Joe Visnesky, said he heard four shots -- one initial shot followed by three faster shots.

After being hit, Mr. Wissinger retreated back into his home. Police had reason to believe he had additional weapons inside the house, Trooper Matchik said. Mr. Wissinger was an Indiana County sheriff's deputy until an illness forced him to retire.

A specialized emergency response team came to the scene to establish a perimeter around Mr. Wissinger's home, which is set about 100 yards from Route 56.

At an unknown time during the disturbance, Mr. Wissinger's wife fled the home. The couple had been married since January, according to neighbor Linda Haldin.

Neighbors said they could hear the woman and the police on a megaphone, pleading for Mr. Wissinger to come out of the house -- even invoking the name of his dog.

"They were saying, 'Gary, come out, we love you,' " Ms. Haldin said. " 'Shelby loves you.' "

When Mr. Wissinger did not come out, troopers went into the home, where they found him dead.

An autopsy will be performed today at the Allegheny County medical examiner's office.

"We will have a much better idea of what happened when the autopsy is conducted," Trooper Matchik said.

Ms. Haldin said Mr. Wissinger had lived in the house off Route 56, a white ranch with blue shutters, for nearly 30 years. She recalled watching him raise his two children, one boy and one girl, who are now in their late 20s.

"He would take them to the drive-in movies," she said. "And he was always so nice to my son, too. His death is truly a shame."

Other neighbors echoed Ms. Haldin, saying he was a kind man who kept to himself. Joe Visnesky lives across the street from the church that Mr. Wissinger's house is behind; the two also played in the same local softball league.

"Gary would always mow the church's lawn, just to keep busy and do a good deed," Mr. Visnesky said.

"He was a nice guy. An upbeat guy."

Members of Mr. Wissinger's family could not be reached for comment.

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Jessica Contrera: jcontrera@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1458. Twitter: @mjcontrera. First Published July 8, 2013 4:15 AM


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