By Rochel Leah Goldblatt And Mike Urban
ONTELAUNEE TWP., Pa. — A man is in critical condition today after he was shot by an off-duty police officer in an apparent road rage incident in Ontelaunee Township, officials said.
Police and the Berks County district attorney's office are investigating the shooting that occurred Tuesday just before 11 p.m. on Route 61 near Berkley Park Road, District Attorney John T. Adams said.
The officer was driving one of two vehicles involved in the incident as they were heading south on Route 61, Adams said.
The vehicles stopped, leading to an altercation between the officer and several of the other vehicle's five occupants, Adams said. There were reports that the cars had touched each other at some point.
The officer, who was alone, was being beaten when he fired a single shot, hitting one of the men, Adams said.
The people involved scattered and were picked up by Muhlenberg police less than 10 minutes later in the area.
Adams did not identify the man who was shot, the officer or his police department, but said the officer works in Berks.
The man who was shot was taken to Reading Hospital, where he remained today. Adams did not say where the man was shot.
The officer was taken to a local hospital, but Adams didn't say if he remains a patient.
Detectives are investigating whether the officer fired the shot with a service weapon or a personal firearm.
"This is a highway with a lot of congestion and it culminated in an incident where a scuffle took place and there was a shooting," Adams said.
The investigation continues into what led to and escalated the road rage incident and will likely take a while to complete, he said.
"We're still piecing it together," he said.
Northern Berks Regional police patrol Ontelaunee, and Chief Scott Eaken was unavailable for comment today.
Multiple agencies are assisting on the case.
Anyone who witnessed the road rage incident or has more information is asked to call Northern Berks police at 610-926-2999 or Berks detectives at 610-478-7171.
One of the men ran from authorities during his interview early today in the Berks County Courthouse, Adams said.
The man, who was caught near the courthouse, ran because he had re-entered the country illegally and feared being detained, Adams said.
Meanwhile, witnesses described the scene Tuesday night:
Matt James, 20, and his girlfriend, Ashley Genetti, 19, were watching TV when they heard a loud bang.
James thought it was a tire blowing and Genetti thought it was a prank until they saw people running into the front yard.
They went outside and Genetti, an EMT who volunteers with Schuylkill Valley Ambulance, was told someone was shot.
She immediately went inside, grabbed gloves and a towel, and started working on the man who was shot.
"I haven't had many traumas but having it outside of the house...it was shocking," Genetti said.
James, who works for his dad's company, V&M Towing, adjacent to where the incident happened, called 9-1-1.
Genetti said the man who was shot was shot in his left side, near his back. She could not see an exit wound.
"We normally don't get any of this down here," James said. "It's rare to get shootings."
The biggest concern for James and Genetti was the possibility that the shooter was still out there.
Police quickly arrived on the scene and apprehended the people involved and taped off the area.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
"I couldn't believe people had swarmed in such a short time," Genetti said.
Copyright 2014 the Reading Eagle