A Pennsylvania Conservation Officer was fatally shot while investigating reports of ongoing poaching near Fairfield, a rural area south of Gettysburg. At approximately 2230 hours, Wildlife Conservation Officer David Grove contacted Adams County 911 dispatchers to report he was conducting a vehicle stop with multiple occupants. Moments later, residents reported shots being fired. Responding officers found Grove fatally wounded near his vehicle.
Officers from numerous state and local agencies spent the overnight hours both investigating the scene and attempting to locate the vehicle Grove had reported stopping. The owner of that vehicle — Christopher Lynn Johnson, 27 — was considered a person of interest although official notices stated that he was to be considered armed and dangerous and in possible need of medical attention.
By 0930 hours — some 11 hours after the shooting — a suspect who was reported as an accomplice was detained in nearby Franklin Township, where reports also indicated the suspect’s vehicle had been located. Evidence from this scene — as well as unconfirmed statements by the accomplice — indicated that WCO Grove was able to return fire and had struck his attacker.
By 1200 hours, Maryland State Police were reporting that they had located Johnson and taken him into custody. These reports also indicate that the gunman was, indeed, in need of medical attention.
Public court records indicated that Christopher Lynn Johnson has a history of burglary convictions and a 2005 plea stemming from charges of fleeing an officer and endangering the welfare of children. Unconfirmed reports are that he said he did not want to go back to prison. If this is true, it is likely he was aware of highly-publicized recent changes to Pennsylvania Game Code penalties, which now allow poachers of big game to be charged with misdemeanors that include possible prison sentences.
Grove, 31, graduated from Penn State University in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries science, and was a Deputy Conservation Officer for several years prior to being hired as a fulltime officer in 2007. He received his commission as a Wildlife Conservation Officer on March 8, 2008.