OLD FORGE -- Officials in Lackawanna County held a news conference this evening on a police chase that spanned two counties that ended with police shooting the suspect dead.
State police say it started when John Souder, 40 of Old Forge, reportedly robbed a bank in Luzerne County then led police on a chase through several communities, including Pittston and Duryea, before finally crossing the county line into Old Forge.
Police swarmed South Main Street in Old Forge after finally tracking down a suspected bank robber who led them on a nine-mile chase through two counties.
State police say the pursuit started after Souder allegedly held up the M & T Bank at gunpoint in the Midway Shopping Plaza in Wyoming then fled through several communities finally crossing over into old forge before coming to a stop.
Investigators say Souder was an immediate threat to the public during that time.
“Multiple traffic violations were observed during the pursuit but yes definitely a risk to the public from the moment he walks in the bank armed,” said State Police Captain Chris Paris.
Police say Souder got out of his vehicle holding a handgun; officers opened fire.
Souder later died at the hospital.
The gunfire happened right in front of a busy gas station.
“I got out of my car and the next thing I heard was gunshots so I just ran in the store hoping that nothing came about,” said Brendan Wahl from Old Forge.
“I said to my sister, let's purchase a couple lottery tickets, maybe we'll get lucky, you know,” said Ramona Lyckowski of Kingston. “I hear, 'bang, bang, bang', I'm like, 'get down, get down get down!' it was like so terrifying, I was scared.”
Investigators say a handgun was recovered outside of the suspect’s vehicle and a bag of cash was found inside the car.
Witnesses at the bank told police Souder did get away with a bag of cash.
“We are looking for any witnesses that can help us with anything they may have seen or heard anywhere from the start of this incident which began down in Luzerne County, Wyoming Borough and terminated in Old Forge. Lackawanna County,” said Capt. Paris.
State police say Souder was the only one injured this afternoon.
They say the police involved in the shooting are on administrative leave during the investigation.