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August 06, 2006
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Officer in Reading, Pa., fatally shot near City Hall

The Associated Press

READING, Pa.- A plainclothes police officer responding to a report of a fight near City Hall was shot in the chest and died Sunday, officials said.

Patrolman Scott A. Wertz and another officer were chasing Cletus C. Rivera when the suspect fired two shots, at least one of which struck Wertz, Mayor Tom McMahon said.

Wertz, 40, was not wearing a bulletproof vest, authorities said. He was shot just after 2 a.m. outside a convenience store.

The other officer tackled Rivera and took him into custody. Authorities said they were preparing to file a murder charge against him.

Wertz was a nine-year veteran assigned to an auto-theft task force. He is survived by a wife and two sons.

"Our hearts go out to the Wertz family and to his brother officers on the Reading Police Department," McMahon said.

Rivera, 24, had been arrested in July after a domestic dispute and charged with holding a gun to a woman's heat and threatening to kill her.

Reading, a city of more than 80,000, is about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

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