Gunman Kills 3 in Central Pennsylvania

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A gunman in central Pennsylvania fatally shot three people Friday morning, including a woman who was hanging Christmas decorations inside a church, before being killed by police officers during a gun battle, the authorities said.

At least two Pennsylvania state troopers were also wounded after they responded to the attack.

The initial shooting took place inside the Juniata Valley Gospel Church near Route 22 and Juniata Valley Road near Hollidaysburg, Penn., a rural community about 40 miles southwest of Penn State University and 100 miles east of Pittsburgh, the authorities said.

The armed man, who has not been identified, fatally shot a woman in the church's fellowship hall, where she had been decorating for a children's Christmas party, said Philip McCaulley, the son of the chuch's preacher. The woman, whose identity has not been released by the authorities, was in her 50s, said Mr. McCaulley.

While many details about the shooting, which occurred at about 10:30 a.m., remained unclear Friday afternoon, Terry Tomassetti, chair of the Blair County commission, said that after the gunman killed his victims he took off in his vehicle.

It was not immediately known where the other two victims had been shot.

When police officers blocked the roadway with their squad car, the gunman rammed the officers' vehicle and opened fire, said Mr. Tomassetti, who was briefed about the attack by law enforcement officials. The officers returned fire, Mr. Tomassetti said, killing the gunman.

The relationship between the gunman and the other two victims is unclear.

"It is something rare in this area," said Mr. Tomassetti; he said the population of the largely rural county was about 125,000.

The wounds to the state troopers were not life-threatening, and they were being treated at a local hospital, said Diane Meling, a spokeswoman for the Blair County Emergency Management Office.

It was not known whether either officer had been struck by bullets.

"The crime scene is spread out over a relatively large area," Ms. Meling said. "The scene is now secure. There is no threat."

Serge Kovaleski and Timothy Williams contributed reporting.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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