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Police: Officers rescued boy during Pa. gun battle

By Michael Rubinkam
Associated Press

SWIFTWATER, Pa. — Police say officers in northeastern Pennsylvania rescued a 9-year-old boy who had been kidnapped by his father as a fatal gun battle erupted between the man and state troopers.

The man had led police on a 40-mile chase that ended with a crash and an exchange of gunfire that killed him and a state trooper.

State police say 31-year-old Daniel Autenrieth (AW-ten-reeth) fired three shots, striking two state troopers who forced him off the road Sunday night. One of the troopers, 34-year-old Joshua Miller, later died.

State Police Commissioner Frank Pawlowski says Miller and Tpr. Robert Lombardo returned fire, striking Autenrieth eight times.

The chase began after Autenrieth kidnapped the boy at gunpoint from his estranged wife's home near Easton.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. The earlier story is below.

SWIFTWATER, Pa. (AP) — A man who kidnapped his 9-year-old son in northeastern Pennsylvania led police on a 40-mile chase that ended in a crash and an exchange of gunfire that killed him and a state trooper, state police said Monday. Another trooper was wounded, but the boy was not shot.

The chase Sunday night began outside Easton, about 50 miles north of Philadelphia, and ended just east of Tobyhanna in the Pocono Mountains when the suspect crashed his car, according to Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis. He said the suspect and police then traded gunfire.

The 31-year-old suspect, whose name was not released, died at the scene, state police said.

Trooper Joshua Miller, 34, was taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, where he died of his gunshot wounds, police said. His colleague, 35-year-old Robert Lombardo, was listed in satisfactory condition at Community Medical Center in Scranton.

The suspect's son was being checked for injuries as a precaution, but he was not shot, Lewis said.

At some point during the ordeal, officers were able to remove the boy from his father's car and get him to safety, said state police spokeswoman Cpl. Linette Quinn. She said police are reviewing the exact order of events.

No one answered the door Monday at the home in Nazareth where the abduction allegedly occurred.

Arlene Benginia, a neighbor, said she heard a man and woman screaming at each other Sunday evening. By the time she got outside, the man was gone and police had arrived at the scene.

Benginia said the woman screamed, "he has my son, he has a gun!" and police immediately took off in pursuit.

Another neighbor said the woman had only moved to the quiet residential street a few months ago.

Miller, a six-year veteran of the force, was married with three children, Quinn said. Lombardo has been with the state police for five years. Both troopers are from Pittston.

Outside the Swiftwater state police barracks on Monday, about two dozen troopers, state police personnel and police officers from other departments lined busy Route 611, standing at attention as they waited for Miller's body to be transported to a funeral home in Pittston.

The chase was set off at around 7:45 p.m. when Nazareth police were responding to a report of a protection-from-abuse order violation involving a weapon, state police said. The suspect then fled with the boy, police said.

Quinn said state police attempted to stop the suspect's vehicle by spinning it out and by placing tire-deflating devices in the road. Quinn said she is unsure which ultimately stopped the vehicle.

The two sides exchanged gunfire as police approached the suspect's car, state police said, but it was unknown who fired first.

State police said they planned to release additional details at a news conference Monday afternoon.

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