State Police Shoot Man
Police opened fire on a man in Luzerne County early Monday morning after they said he attacked them with a chain saw. That man was killed. One state trooper was hurt.
State police investigators wrapped up nearly 12 hours of work late Monday afternoon. They said it all started around 5:00 a.m. when 911 received a call saying someone was having a heart attack in a home along River Street.
When paramedics and an officer got there they found no heart attack victim but a lot of trouble. Police cruisers sat on River Street for hours Monday in the same spots police left them after responding to an officer's call for help. In a matter of minutes, officers said, all on scene were in danger. Michael Hinkle, 40, was using the chain saw as a weapon despite pleas for him to put it down.
"He refused and eventually charged at some of the officers with the chain saw, struck one trooper in the shoulder and rear part of the body," explained Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Tom Kelly.
Bullets began to fly. Investigators said the wounded trooper fired first. Then four state troopers and local officers began shooting, in all 40 rounds. More than a dozen of them hit Hinkle, eventually killing him. Even after the first few shots, investigators said, Hinkle wouldn't give up. "I want to stress, after being hit initially, it did not stop him. He did not stop," said Pennsylvania State Police Captain Kenneth Hill.
"He was given verbal warnings. Mace was utilized. One officer even brought out a baton but his actions left officers no other choice," said Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas.
The D.A. and investigators displayed Trooper Michael Hartzell's torn uniform Monday afternoon, showing where the chain saw cut his shoulder, back and buttocks. "He's a very lucky individual that he escaped without sustaining serious injuries or even death to himself," added Lupas.
Police said William Hinkle has a history of mental illness and they believe he was drinking overnight. Trooper Hartzell was treated at the hospital and released.
Some people living in the neighborhood were startled awake by the sounds of gunfire. "At about 4:45 I wok up to shots. I looked out and police were already here. I couldn't understand why I heard gunshots and police were already here," said Maria Delazzari.
"I thought maybe it was a snow plow coming through that dropped the blade down and then I got up at 7:00 and saw police here," said neighbor Jeff Finkel.
All the activity has neighbors shaken. "This is a great neighborhood," added Finkel.
"I'm absolutely shocked. It's a quiet street other then all the traffic. It's a very busy street. Neighbors are really nice. Nothing like this every happens here," said Delazzari.
"I want to commend officers for the professionalism and for their bravery. We're very fortunate that we have police willing to risk their life when they respond to a situation," said D.A. Lupas.
The state and local officers who fired shots will be on administrative leave and must talk with counselors before going back to the streets.