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One killed in Pa. club shooting

June 11, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The vice commander of a Vietnam veterans club was killed early Sunday morning in a shooting that left two post employees hospitalized with wounds and a Chambersburg woman in custody, according to Chambersburg police.

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Robert E. Tucker, 49, of 1024 Warm Spring Road, Lot 90, was pronounced dead at the scene by Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner at 3:40 a.m. Conner said Tucker had a gunshot wound, but that an autopsy would be performed today at Chambersburg Hospital to determine an official cause of death.

Jonna M. Johnson, 32, of 405 Philadelphia Ave., Apt. A, was charged with one count of criminal homicide, borough police said. She was arraigned before District Justice Gary L. Carter and was being held without bail at Franklin County Prison on Sunday, according to police.

"We have three victims, one deceased," Detective Sgt. Dianne Kelso said Sunday. The other two victims were initially taken to Chambersburg Hospital. Their names were not released by police.

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One of the shooting victims was a club bartender, William Groff of Chambersburg, according to Alan Keith, a post trustee. Groff was in critical condition Sunday evening at Hershey Medical Center, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Keith said Sunday the other injured person was the club manager and Groff's girlfriend, Kim Bigler of Chambersburg. She was also taken to Hershey Medical Center and was listed in fair condition, the spokeswoman said.

The report by the police did not describe the circumstances of the shooting, but said the investigation is continuing and that "further charges are pending for Johnson."

Conner said the call to the Franklin County 911 Center came in a 1:49 a.m., shortly after the club's closing time. He said Tucker's body was outside and to the rear of the Richard L. Hershey Veterans of the Vietnam War Post 41 Inc., 1571 S. Main St., when he examined the body.

Conner said he didn't know if Tucker and the other victims were shot inside or outside.

A club official was called to the scene shortly after the shooting and then briefed board members at a meeting on Sunday, Keith said.

Keith said the shootings began inside the post. Bigler was shot in the arm with the bullet passing through and grazing her head, he said. Groff was sitting at the end of the bar and was shot in the face, he said.

When the shooting began, Keith said Tucker was sitting at the other end of the bar from Groff and ran out the back of the building. The shooter, however, apparently caught up with Tucker outside the post and shot him in the head, Keith said.

"Bob Tucker was a friend of mine," Keith said. The two met several years ago when they were involved in Midget League Football. They resumed their friendship about two years ago when Tucker joined the post.

Tucker "lived alone, as far as I know," Post Commander Dave Leonard said Sunday afternoon. He said Tucker was an Army veteran and was elected vice commander in January.

Keith said Tucker was recently widowed. He said Tucker's wife "had cancer and she passed away about a month ago."

"I know we had a regular customer by that name ... I'd know her if I saw her on the street," Leonard said about Johnson. He said he did not know anything else about the woman.

At the post Sunday there was no sign a shooting had taken place early that morning, except that the flag out front was flying at half-staff. There were three vehicles in the parking lot, but the building was closed.

A sign on the door said the club would reopen Wednesday at 1 p.m. The club decided to close in remembrance of Tucker and the other victims, Leonard said Sunday.

"We never have any trouble," Leonard said. "It's unheard of in a club-type environment," he said.

The post on the south end of Chambersburg closes at 1:30 a.m. on weekend nights, he said.

Leonard said the post was established in 1986 and has about 400 members.

The shooting was the first homicide in Chambersburg since March 1, 1999, when Drake Luckett, 34, of Chambersburg, was shot and killed at Dave's Tavern, a bar on South Main St., according to police records.

The criminal homicide trial of the man charged in that shooting, Timothy Ross of Chambersburg, begins today.

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