ST. THOMAS, Pa. — The Franklin County, Pa., district attorney said he has investigated and cleared Pennsylvania State Police of any wrongdoing in the Labor Day shooting of a man in St. Thomas Township.
Police fatally shot Philip E. Rank, 47, when he fled his house at 599 St. Thomas-Williamson Road during a standoff Monday. When troopers attempted to serve an arrest warrant on an aggravated assault charge that morning, Rank barricaded himself in the home for five hours.
During negotiations, Rank said he had two semiautomatic rifles and 75 rounds of ammunition, and he claimed to have his scope trained on a trooper, District Attorney Matt Fogal said in a statement this weekend.
“He talked about dying and said that if he left the residence, he would be shooting,” Fogal said.
Fogal said Rank yelled “come and get me” before covering windows and doors with curtains. He said troopers heard yelling from inside the house as Rank moved from doors to windows, briefly looking outside each time.
At about 3:30 p.m., Rank ran out the back of the single-family, log-cabin-style house with a holstered .40 Beretta pistol and an SKS rifle in his hands, Fogal said.
Troopers from a Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) had established a perimeter around the home. The district attorney said Rank raised the rifle toward one of the troopers, then swung around when another approached from the front of a barn.
“The SERT trooper appropriately employed deadly force at that time, firing several shots into the body of Rank. Rank subsequently dropped his weapon and immediately made an effort to reach it and regain possession, and was fatally shot,” Fogal said.
Fogal said he is pleased no troopers were injured or killed.
“Certainly, no one delights in taking the life of another, but the actions of all troopers involved were utterly reasonable, appropriate and correct,” he said.
Online court records show Rank was charged with felony aggravated assault, misdemeanor simple assault and harassment, which is a summary offense.
That case involved a “bloody and violent” domestic dispute, which was reported to authorities after the victim spoke to troopers at Chambersburg (Pa.) Hospital, according to Fogal’s statement.
Troopers repeatedly tried to serve the warrant over the weekend, but Rank was not at the property. Fogal said a friend informed police when Rank was home and that friend communicated with him on behalf of police when they were trying to negotiate.
Rank was given a “surrender plan” at least four times, Fogal said.
Pennsylvania State Police had responded to the property several times in recent months. Allegedly, Rank hid himself with firearms on those occasions and told his girlfriend he would kill her if she spoke freely or let the troopers inside.
“Also, during those prior incidents, Rank had a gun trained on troopers and explained to her how easy it would be to kill them,” Fogal said.
The district attorney said he went to the scene and later reviewed evidence gathered by police. He said no further investigation is warranted.
“I have determined that the response and actions taken by all troopers involved were absolutely and unequivocally justified under the circumstances,” Fogal said.