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Police: Man who led chase after Chambersburg bank robbery died of self-inflicted wound

Two troopers wounded during pursuit, shootout; Pittsburgh man linked to bomb threat at Marion preschool

September 10, 2013|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Cumberland County (Pa.) District Attorney David Freed, center, talks to the media Tuesday about a police chase that started as a bank robbery in Chambersburg, Pa., and ended with the death of the suspect in a field near Newville, Pa., in Cumberland County.
By Roxann Miller, Staff Writer

CARLISLE, Pa. — A man who robbed a Chambersburg (Pa.) bank on Monday before leading  police on a high-speed chase and wounding two state troopers in a running shootout died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Cumberland County district attorney.

Dakin Burgess, 37, of Pittsburgh shot himself on Roxbury Road in Upper Mifflin Township after a three-hour pursuit through two Pennsylvania counties, District Attorney David Freed said during a Tuesday morning news conference at the Cumberland County Courthouse.

Burgess was being pursued following a bank robbery at the M&T bank at Lincoln Way East and Garman Drive in Guilford Township, police said.

An autopsy on Burgess was performed Tuesday.

Pennsylvania State Police Capt. Steven Junkin said Burgess made it apparent that he would do anything to get away.

“You can use the term desperate. You can use motivated or fixated. But he had a clear desire to get away,” Junkin said. “Whether it was to take the life of anybody, whether armed police officers, sheriffs ... he was going to do it.”

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Freed said the incident began at approximately 4:50 p.m. on Monday when a man wearing a stocking over his face, with a mustache and glasses painted on it, entered the M&T Bank in Chambersburg brandishing a handgun.

When the man fled the bank, a trooper noticed his minivan on Pa. 997 and began following it, Freed said.

The man, whom police later identified as Burgess, entered Interstate 81 northbound and accelerated with the trooper in pursuit, he said.

Burgess pulled over his van on I-81 about two miles south of Exit 24, the Fayette Street exit, and began firing shots at the trooper, who returned fire, Freed said.

One shot hit the trooper in the foot and several struck his patrol car.

“Although the trooper had been struck, he got back in the car and continued to follow the suspect,” Junkin said, noting that a flat tire kept him from continuing the pursuit.

Burgess continued on I-81 into the Shippensburg area and into the area of Ott and Clouse roads, where he hid in a cornfield, Freed said.

A Pennsylvania State Police helicopter was tracking Burgess, but Junkin said Burgess laid cornstalks on the top and back of his vehicle in an attempt to hide it, Junkin said.

Burgess even changed his clothes while he was in the cornfield, he said.

He then fled the cornfield in the minivan, exchanging gunfire with troopers at the intersection of Roxbury and Metal roads, he said.

One of the troopers was shot by Burgess in the upper right shoulder. He continued to pursue Burgess for 2.6 miles before stopping due to his wound, Freed said.

“I think it shows a lot of character. He is a senior member of our department,” Junkin said. “He had experience, and I think it demonstrates his level of professionalism.”

Burgess continued his flight on Roxbury Road, Freed said.

He was driving without his headlights at night, Junkin said.

One trooper used his vehicle to strike Burgess’ vehicle, which partially disabled the minivan, Junkin said.

“The suspect continued to drive for a period of time and then had a secondary crash, and somewhere in there took his own life,” Junkin said.

Freed said police found a “substantial amount of ammunition” in the minivan.

Evidence was also found inside the vehicle that linked Burgess to a bomb threat Friday at the Marion (Pa.) Mennonite Church Preschool at 4365 Molly Pitcher Highway, or U.S. 11, Freed said.

He would not elaborate on that evidence.

Police were still investigating Burgess’ connections to the local area, Freed said.

“Physical evidence from the bank robbery was recovered from the vehicle, including $12,000 in change and cash, which was reported stolen by the M&T bank personnel,” Freed said.

The trooper shot in the foot underwent surgery at Chambersburg Hospital, Freed said. He was expected to be released from the hospital Tuesday.

The other trooper shot in the right upper shoulder was transferred to Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center and was also expected to be released Tuesday.

The troopers’ names were not released.

Burgess had at least one confirmed drug conviction, meaning he was prohibited by law from possessing a firearm, Freed said.

The investigation is continuing, Freed said.

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