SCOTT TOWNSHIP -- An officer-involved shooting over the weekend near Bloomsburg highlights the dangers faced by police when they are called on to serve a mental health warrant. What are the main concerns officers have, and what procedures do they follow?
Police we talked with say the guidelines in place for serving mental health warrants have been in place for at least 20 years. That's what officers were doing on Sunday near Bloomsburg. The situation ended with one officer hurt and the suspect shot.
"He went nuts. He just went nuts," Rick Moyer said.
Rick Moyer of Scott Township has known Jonathan Young for more than 15 years, but what he saw Sunday afternoon outside his home near Bloomsburg still surprised him.
"They knocked his door down and I heard three shots. Somebody said there were two shots. I heard three shots: bang, bang, bang, and they shot him and brought him out on a stretcher," Moyer said.
According to state troopers, police were at Young's home to serve a mental health warrant, but young barricaded himself inside. When officers went inside, troopers say Young charged at them with an ax and a baseball bat. Scott Township Police Sergeant Joseph Grassley suffered a head injury. Troopers say Grassley then shot Young in the leg and chest. Grassley was treated and released from the hospital. Hospital officials will not comment on Young's condition.
A mental health warrant is served when a family member feels the person is a danger to themselves or someone else. We spoke with Danville Police Chief Eric Gill about the procedures for serving these warrants. He says officers do not go alone, and it's important for them to be aware of their surroundings.
"Try to get as much information on who we are going for and what their mental status really is," Gill said.
But what concerns do officers have when serving these warrants? Chief Gill says it's mainly just one.
"The concerns are our officers' safety. What may they potentially do to us or the people we're going with," Gill said.
The Columbia County District Attorney must now decide whether this was a justified shooting. He did not get back to us on Monday. Neither did the Scott Township police chief when we asked if Sergeant Grassley is still on duty after the shooting.