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Pa. man charged in shooting incident taken into custody

September 26, 2006|by DON AINES

MONT ALTO, Pa. - A 38-year-old man charged in a shooting incident Sunday night involving Pennsylvania State Police was taken into custody Monday afternoon at a Quincy Township home and treated at two separate hospitals for unspecified injuries, police said.

Magisterial District Judge Richard Alloway arraigned Chris Alan Neil of Fannettsburg, Pa., in Chambersburg Hospital on two counts of felony aggravated assault and one count each of recklessly endangering another person and fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer. Alloway set bail for Neil at $500,000 and scheduled a preliminary hearing for Oct. 3.

Residents of the Tomstown, Pa., area reported hearing four or five gunshots as Neil was pursued by Trooper Scott Roussell around 10 p.m. Sunday. The incident began when Neil's Nissan Xterra was pulled over for speeding, then continued with vehicular and foot chases.

Police would not confirm whether Neil had been shot, but Trooper Ed Asbury said Roussell was unhurt.

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"He appears to have a serious arm injury," Alloway said of Neil after the arraignment. Neil was later taken to Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center, where a hospital spokeswoman said Monday night he was still in the emergency department and his condition was not available.

Police said the origin of the shots is under investigation and would not elaborate on what weapons were fired. Roussell, a 10-year state police veteran, was placed on restricted duty pending an administrative investigation, a routine practice when officers are involved in a shooting incident, Asbury said.

"Someone who is involved in an incident with a lot of stress and a life-threatening situation needs time to rest and recover," he said.

State and local police using helicopters and a dog searched the area overnight for Neil before finding him in a Mormon Church Road home at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

"It was pretty much the last canvass of the area that they found him," Asbury said.

Authorities believe Neil spent much of the night in the woods and said a woman, whose relationship to Neil was withheld, let police into the house. Neil was "very cooperative" when he was taken into custody, Asbury said.

Police said Roussell, who was operating a radar device from his cruiser, pulled over a sport utility vehicle and the Nissan Xterra for going 60 mph in a 35-mph zone on Pa. 997 near Tomstown Road. The driver of the SUV told Roussell her identification was in the other vehicle, the affidavit of probable cause stated.

When Roussell talked to the driver of the Xterra, he said he had no identification and that his name was Smith, police said. The affidavit stated that Roussell smelled alcohol and saw containers of beer in the car.

Roussell went back to talk to the woman, who told him the man's name was Chris Neil, police said. At that point, the driver of the Xterra drove off at high speeds and Roussell followed him, police said.

After turning onto Tomstown Road, police said the man stopped the car, put it in reverse and rammed Rousell's cruiser. The man attempted to do the same thing on Mormon Church Road, police said.

The driver attempted to ram the cruiser one more time before driving into a yard and fleeing on foot, according to the affidavit.

Asbury said the shots were fired after the man ran from the car and that Roussell was the sole officer involved in the foot chase.

"Last night, I didn't know what was going on," Phyllis Stull of 8629 Monns Gap Road said. "The cop came to the door and asked us to call the Chambersburg barracks."

"Right now, we don't know the sequences. We don't know the sequence whether the trooper fired, whether the bad guy fired," Asbury said Monday afternoon when asked whether Roussell or Neil fired first or if shots were exchanged. Asbury said a handgun was found by police during the course of the manhunt, but he said police had not made a definite connection between the weapon and the suspect.

According to Franklin County Court records, Neil pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in 1999 and was sentenced to six months to two years in state prison. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property and disorderly conduct and was placed on probation, but later spent three months in jail on a probation violation.

Asbury said Neil had previous criminal charges in Cumberland County, but he did not have specific information on those cases.

Staff writer Jennifer Fitch contributed to this story.

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