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Mercersburg police sergeant facing DUI charges

Pa. police say William E. Sheppard Jr. drove his vehicle into two others

Pa. police say William E. Sheppard Jr. drove his vehicle into two others

February 01, 2008|By DON AINES and JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- Days after a driving mishap and rowdy conduct, a Mercersburg police sergeant was charged with driving under the influence and other offenses Thursday.

The charges follow a Saturday night incident outside a banquet in which the man drove his vehicle into two others and became unruly with investigating officers, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

William E. "Bill" Sheppard Jr. declined an offer for a ride home before getting behind the wheel of a 1994 Chevrolet Blazer at about 11:45 p.m. and hitting two vehicles parked at the Mercersburg Sportsman's Club, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Sheppard got out of the vehicle and "became loud and agitated ... yelling, using obscene language and wanting to engage in a fight with any of the (approximately) 60 bystanders," the affidavit states.

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State police filed charges of DUI, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct Thursday morning in Magisterial District Judge David Hawbaker's office.

Sheppard, 46, of Mercersburg, will be issued a summons on the charges, Hawbaker's secretary said.

The sergeant was put on unpaid administrative leave Sunday, Mercersburg Mayor James C. Zeger said. The Mercersburg Borough Council, on Feb. 11 at the latest, will lend further consideration to Sheppard's employment status, he said.

"There may be a meeting sooner than that," Zeger said.

The Mercersburg Borough Council first hired Sheppard as a part-time officer in July 1995, according to published reports.

On Monday, Mercersburg Police Chief Larry Thomas asked the state police to investigate the incident, the affidavit stated.

Zeger confirmed that the borough police were called first, even though the incident occurred at the Sportsman's Club at 12143 Dickey's Road in Peters Township.

"There are times the state police will ask our policemen to help them out. I'm not going to get into a lot of specifics because I'm sure, as the state police said, it's under investigation," Zeger said.

A witness told police that Sheppard was at a banquet and had consumed several alcoholic beverages. At about 11:45 p.m., Sheppard said he was leaving, and that witness offered to give him a ride home "due to Sheppard being unable to stand or walk without swaying or staggering, along with his slurred and stuttering speech and bloodshot eyes," the affidavit stated.

Sheppard got into his 1994 Chevrolet Blazer and drove it into a parked 1997 Ford pickup truck, police said. He then revved the engine, put the Blazer in reverse and struck a parked 2002 Toyota Echo, police said.

Witness Donald Stoner, chief of the MMP&W Fire Department and a Mercersburg councilman, told police he was pushed by Sheppard and that he knew Sheppard was intoxicated because "he was not acting like himself."

Officers James Bradley and Keith Culbertson of the Mercersburg Police Department arrived at the scene and noticed a "strong odor of alcohol; ... his speech was slurred and he staggered and almost fell down numerous times," police said.

Sheppard was uncooperative, used obscene language and "exhibited severe mood swings from crying and apologizing to yelling and swearing at any moment," the affidavit stated.

Police said Sheppard placed his hands on the two officers at different times.

The affidavit stated that Bradley and Culbertson made sure insurance information was exchanged between vehicle owners and they found a friend to drive Sheppard home.

The Web site for the MMP&W Volunteer Fire Department stated that the department's annual awards banquet was scheduled Saturday at the Sportsman's Club.

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