Pa. man charged after armed standoff

February 09, 2009|By DON AINES

LURGAN, Pa. -- An Orrstown, Pa., man making claims about satellite interference was charged with aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person following a seven-hour armed standoff with Pennsylvania State Police on Monday.

Police pumped tear gas into a barn at 12924 South Road in rural Lurgan Township, Pa., at least three times between 1 and 2 p.m. in an effort to get 53-year-old Gary Eugene Shoop out of the building. At approximately 2 p.m., police used a tactical response vehicle known as a Bearcat to ram the barn door, taking Shoop into custody without injury to him or police, said Trooper Ed Asbury.

"There's people who are programming these satellites to hurt people," Shoop, of 3124 Orrstown Road, told Magisterial District Judge Brenda Knepper during his arraignment. Knepper set Shoop's bail at $200,000 in cash and scheduled his preliminary hearing for Tuesday, Feb. 17.

"Too much excitement for this little town," said Barb Wright, who lives near where the standoff occurred.


Wright and others said Shoop often stayed at the South Road property of Linda Wagner, who went to work before the incident began.

"It's been awhile since I had any contact with him. He's a well-educated man," said Cathy Hunter of Lurgan.

The standoff began at 6:50 a.m. when Shoop fired a rifle in the direction of Anna Marie Bolinger, 47, of 12590 South Road, as she stood in the doorway of her home, according to the affidavit of probable cause. Shoop fired six to seven rounds in the direction of occupied homes in the neighborhood and then went into the barn, police said.

Roxbury Road on either side of South Road was blocked off to traffic as members of the state police's Special Emergency Response Team arrived in unmarked police cruisers. Troopers dressed in body armor and camouflage could be seen gathered around the Bearcat before it was used to ram open the barn door.

During his arraignment, Shoop told Knepper he had top-secret papers on him that needed to be secured and sent to the U.S. State Department. Shoop then said "there are people programming these satellites to harm people" and he wanted to get the warning out.

"I heard on the communications system that my daughters were both hurt this morning," said Shoop, who spoke calmly. "I was trying to notify people in the area."

Once Shoop was taken into custody, a rifle and revolver were found in the barn, police said.

Asbury said the tear gas might have dissipated because the barn was not airtight. Several popping sounds could be heard coming from the direction of the barn shortly after 1 p.m., again at 1:25 p.m. and just before 2 p.m.

Keeping families informed

The standoff in Lurgan Township took place about one mile from Lurgan Elementary School. The Chambersburg Area School District posted updates on the school's Web page throughout the standoff.

o At 9 a.m., the first message noted that students would be kept inside during the school day and classes would proceed as scheduled.

o At 10:40 a.m., morning kindergarten students were kept at the school for the day, while afternoon students were not picked up, according to the Web site. The message stated that parents were being notified of the changes.

o At 1:20 p.m., the message noted that roads near the school remained closed, and the district was working with the transportation department and secondary schools to notify affected families that dismissal might be modified.

o At 2:15 p.m., the school district posted a message stating that the situation was resolved and that dismissal would proceed as normal. The district pledged to communicate with families in the affected area to make sure every student arrived home safely.

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