Oil City police justified in fatal July shooting, Pennsylvania State Police say

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An Oil City police officer was justified in fatally shooting a woman wielding a knife at him and two other officers in July, Pennsylvania State Police announced today.

State police said they and the Venango County district attorney's office, which reviewed the death of Marilyn Peterson, 68, will not file charges in the case.

A family member called police the night of July 16 to report Peterson "acting in an irrational and threatening manner towards other household members, including children," state police in the Franklin barracks said in a press release.

When two Oil City officers arrived, Peterson pointed the knife at them, then turned it on herself and threatened to commit suicide, state police said. Police called for a third officer, then tried to get the knife out of her grasp by striking her hands with an object.

State police said Peterson became more upset and aggressive and began to approach the officers, slashing the knife through the air. At that point, officers sprayed her with pepper mace, state police said, but she continued to come toward them.

A wooden barrier across the lower part of the doorway blocked the exit, state police said, and the pepper spray began to affect the officers as they ordered her to drop the knife.

"As the victim's approach reached within approx. two feet in front of the officers one officer drew and discharged his issued firearm one time striking the victim in the upper right chest area," state police wrote in the release.

Peterson was taken to UPMC Northwest, where she died. State police said Eric Vey in the Erie County coroner's office ruled that the single gunshot wound to the chest killed her.

Venango County District Attorney Marie Veon reviewed the decision and found that the officer "acted within the scope of his duties and responded with justifiable force to prevent serious bodily injury or death to himself or others," state police wrote.

The Peterson family could not be immediately reached for comment.


Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944. Twitter: @borntolede.

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