State trooper fatally shot in Venango County
Two Pennsylvania State Police troopers search cars coming from Bredinsburg Road as part of a manhunt for the man who killed a fellow state trooper.
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A state trooper was shot and killed outside a home in Venango County and police say the man suspected of shooting him was found dead inside the house along with his wife.
Authorities said found the bodies in the home about 6:15 p.m.
State police said Trooper Paul G. Richey, 40, was killed when he and another trooper responded to the scene of a domestic dispute at the home of Michael and Nancy Smith. Police said Trooper Richey was shot once in the chest.
The shooting occurred in the 1400 block of Bredinsburg Road in Cranberry Township.
Trooper Richey and the other officer, Trooper Jason Whitman, arrived at the scene at approximately 11:45 a.m., according to state police. After they got out of their vehicles, Trooper Richey was hit with a shot fired from the residence. Additional troopers responded and Trooper Richey was removed from the scene.
A State Police Special Emergency Response Team responded to the scene and the incident remains open, state police said.
Dozens of officers from other departments, including Pittsburgh police, converged on the heavily wooded area where the shooting occurred. State police identified the dead man inside the home as Michael J. Smith, 44, who was the shooting suspect. His body was found inside his home along with his wife, Nancy, 53. Police had been called to the home because Mrs. Smith, who worked at a car dealership, had not showed up to work.
Shortly after the shooting, police believed the shooter may have escaped and launched a manhunt. Venango Catholic High School was locked down and students were dismissed to parents only.
Cranberry High School and Cranberry Elementary schools were locked down, though students were being dismissed securely" two buses at a time, according to the Cranberry Area School District Web site.
"Students from the Bredinsburg Road area will remain at the school until it is clear to send them home or until the parents are able to pick them up," the statement said.
Pinegrove and Rockland elementary schools were not locked down, but buses were running about 15 minutes behind schedule.
Clarion University's Venango campus is still on break. But the university sent an e-mail and voice-mail alert and posted a message on its Web page alerting the campus community to the shooting.
The message said to avoid traveling to the campus and urged those already on campus to stay in a secure place.
Trooper Richey was a 16-year-veteran of the Pennsylvania State Police. Trooper Richey was assigned to the Patrol Unit at Troop E, Franklin.
"Trooper Richey sacrificed his life rather than swerve from the path of duty," said State Police Commissioner Frank E. Pawlowski. "We will not forget his service or his sacrifice."
Trooper Richey enlisted in the State Police on May 17, 1993. He graduated from the State Police Academy in Hershey on Nov. 10, 1993, and was assigned to Troop F, Milton. He transferred to Troop E, Corry, on Oct. 19, 1996, and to the Franklin station on May 17, 1997.
Among Trooper Richey's survivors are his widow, Camie; a son, Connor, 9; and a daughter, Catherine, 6.
Gov. Ed Rendell offered his condolences to the family and friends of Trooper Richey.
"A 16-year veteran of the force, Trooper Richey was struck down while carrying out his sworn duty to protect our citizens," Gov. Rendell said. "This is a tragedy for the Pennsylvania State Police and the commonwealth. Midge and I join with Pennsylvania's citizens in extending our deepest sympathies to Trooper Richey's wife, Carrie, and their two children. The trooper's sacrifice will never be forgotten."
The governor ordered that all flags at Commonwealth facilities throughout state should be flown at half-staff in honor of Trooper Richey until his interment.
Trooper Richey is the 93rd member of the department to die in the line of duty since the force was established in 1905. His death came a little more than seven months after the shooting death of Trooper Joshua D. Miller of Troop N, Swiftwater, who was killed during the rescue of a kidnapped child on June 7, 2009, in Monroe County.
First Published January 13, 2010 1:09 pm