March 19, 2004
One Officer Dead, Two Injured, Serving Warrant
Officer Down: Joseph LeClaire - [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]
The Associated Press
One court officer was killed and two others
injured early Friday when they were shot serving a warrant on a man
wanted for failing to appear at his trial on rape charges, police
Joseph LeClaire, a 50-year-old supervisor, was shot in the head and
stomach in an apartment in the city's Germantown section at 1:42
a.m., authorities said.
He was pronounced dead at Albert Einstein University Hospital just
before 4 a.m., according to Homicide Sgt. Alex Strong.
Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said shots were fired after a
woman opened the apartment door and the three court officers
identified themselves and entered.
Another officer was shot in the stomach and the third in the hand,
Johnson said. Those officers, Vincent Disandro and Carlo Delborrello,
both 30, were in stable condition at Temple University Hospital,
according to broadcast reports.
Police said the suspect, Darien Houser, 40, was shot in the back and
the leg. He tried to flee but was captured a short time later,
authorities said. He was in stable condition at the Hospital of the
University of Pennsylvania.
Warrant officers work for the city court system and are not members
of the Philadelphia Police Department.
"It's a dangerous job when you go out there and try to apprehend
people that have committed crimes, especially violent crimes,"
Houser was scheduled to go on trial last November on charges that he
raped a 13-year-old girl, but failed to appear in court. He was tried
in absentia and acquitted. Following the trial, the judge issued a
warrant for his arrest on a contempt of court charge for failing to
show for the trial, according to prosecutors.
Houser has a lengthy criminal history, according to court records. He
received a 4-to-10 year prison sentence for robbery in 1997, was
placed on probation in 1987 for burglary and theft, and was sentenced
to a pair of 11 1/2-to-23 month jail terms in 1986 and 1988 for
offenses including robbery, aggravated assault and burglary, the