Officer wounded in Monaca shooting

19-year-old faces charge of attempted homicide after robbery at Cricket store


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An Aliquippa teenager was being held Wednesday night on charges that he robbed a cell phone store and then wounded a Monaca police officer during a shoot-out.

Damontae Williams, 19, faces charges of attempted homicide, robbery, aggravated assault, firearms violations and other crimes in connection with the shooting of part-time Monaca police Officer Alan Shaffer in an alley behind the CoGo's gas station at Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street.

"His intent was to kill," said Lt. Eric Hermick, of the state police barracks in Butler.

Lt. Hermick said the incident began about 5:30 p.m. at a Cricket store in the Walmart Shopping Plaza off Route 18 in Center. Police there were called to the store for a report that an armed man had just robbed the store.

Center police sent out a description of the suspect's car shortly afterward, and Officer Shaffer spotted a car matching that description near the CoGo's gas station.

The passenger jumped out of the car, dropped a green bag containing loot and ran into an alley behind the gas station while the driver fled away, police said. When Officer Shaffer ran into the alleyway, which stretched between several homes, the suspect, later identified as Mr. Williams, raised a semiautomatic handgun and opened fire, Lt. Hermick said.

Officer Shaffer returned fire. Neighbors said they heard at least eight shots. At some point during the fray, a bullet struck Officer Shaffer in the leg.

Moments later, a Center police officer arrived to provide backup and tackled Mr. Williams. That officer found that Mr. Williams also had a revolver, Lt. Hermick said.

Ray Pranskey, 44, whose home abuts the alley where the shooting occurred, said he heard about eight popping noises while he was doing laundry and initially thought they were fireworks. Then, he looked outside to see an officer with Mr. Williams pinned against the ground on a hillside.

Mr. Pranskey said his 2011 Suzuki Kizashi had at least three bullet holes.

Other neighbors said they saw Officer Shaffer limp as he walked toward an ambulance, which whisked him away to Heritage Valley Hospital Beaver, where he was expected to be released late Wednesday night.

State police said Mr. Williams was not injured in the shooting. They have not yet released a description of his getaway driver, saying they do not want to compromise the investigation. Police found the getaway car in Aliquippa and said they planned to search it for evidence.

neigh_west

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438. First Published July 26, 2012 4:00 AM


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