SUNBURY — State police say a Sunbury officer shot a 17-year-old boy who allegedly led police on a chase.
That teenager is listed in critical condition at Geisinger Medical Center near Danville.
State police say the shooting was necessary because the Sunbury police officer who pulled the trigger thought his life was in jeopardy.
According to state police, it all started in the 400 block of North 5th Street in Sunbury around 1 a.m. Wednesday. Police officers were ticketing vehicles that were illegally parked during street cleaning. Cops asked a 17-year-old boy inside his car to move his vehicle. The teenager then drove off recklessly. Officers tried to pull the teen over. The teen allegedly led police on a 20-block chase, speeding through stop signs, and driving the wrong way on a one-way street.
“I heard the sirens going, that’s why I went to my window. They were really roaring going up through here. Then when I saw them all going the wrong direction, I knew something had to happen,” said Catherine Dudeck of Sunbury.
Troopers said the chase ended at the corner of Chestnut and Front Streets. The teenager hit both police cars and then almost hit one of the officers who was outside of his vehicle.
The police officer then shot the teen through his windshield. State police tell Newswatch 16 the officer saw the car coming right at him and he defended himself.
Sunbury Police Chief Stephen Mazzeo says it has been about 25 years since an officer fired his gun while on duty in Sunbury. Mazzeo says three police officers were involved in the chase. One was hurt. No officers were suspended but they are taking time off until the investigation is complete.
“They were placed on administrative leave. That is standard practice throughout law enforcement throughout the country,” said Chief Mazzeo.
Some people who live in Sunbury say the police chase scared them.
“The neighborhood has changed so much. It used to be you could enjoy your neighbors. Everybody enjoyed each other and we all got along so well,” said Karen Ann Miller.
The teenager’s godmother tells Newswatch 16 that it was not his car and he does not have a license.
“Look how it ended. I just hope this will wake up a lot of these kids. It’s not a joke out here,” Denise Easton said.
Denise Easton says she loves her godson, but she believes the shooting was justified.
“Times are getting worse. Cops have to protect themselves. They have to do what comes first. You don’t know if somebody’s going to shoot. You don’t know,” Easton said.
Others have mixed opinions.
“I wish there was some other way that they could have handled the situation. But they probably did not have another choice other than doing what they did,” Donna Nickles said.
“I think the police officers were doing what they had to do. I mean, they come by here and always patrol and help me out,” Karen Ann Miller said.
The teenager is listed in critical condition at Geisinger Medical Center. State police are still investigating.