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Pa. police cleared in shooting of armed man

The suspect never fired, but aimed two pistols at police

By Dan Kelly
Reading Eagle, Pa.

BERKS COUNTY, Pa. — Police officers who fatally shot a 20-year-old Wernersville man last weekend acted properly, Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams said Friday.

Jonathan D. Rutkowski was shot by officers along the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks off South Church Street after he pointed two pistols at police during a confrontation about 8 p.m. Saturday, state police said.

Rutkowski never fired the guns, a revolver and a semi-automatic, but ignored repeated orders to drop the weapons, said troopers, who did the initial investigation to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

Rutkowski died of gunshot wounds, according to the coroner's office, which postponed a ruling pending results of toxicology tests.

Adams said the deadly encounter involved officers from Western Berks Regional, Sinking Spring, Lower Heidelberg and South Heidelberg township police departments, but he refused to identify the officers.

In a written statement issued Friday, Adams said he reviewed reports of officers involved in the shooting, statements from witnesses, photographs, an autopsy report and 9-1-1 tapes. He concluded the officers fatally shot Rutkowski only after he pointed loaded pistols at them at least twice and refused to drop the weapons.

"The officers involved in this shooting incident demonstrated great restraint in their actions that evening and their use of deadly force was justified," Adams said. "The unfortunate loss of life under these circumstances was unavoidable, and the officers' actions were legal."

Adams' investigation also revealed Rutkowski had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, and had broken into his father's closet and taken the guns. He was wearing a black shirt and camouflage pants.

Rutkowski left a note that said in part, "to that end I'm leaving today," Adams said, and also made posts on his Facebook page saying goodbye to people.

According to troopers:
Western Berks Regional police received a report of a man walking with two guns visible in his pants in the first block of East Washington Avenue at 7:52 p.m.

Police made contact with Rutkowski on North Church Street and asked him to put down the weapons numerous times.

When officers approached and ordered Rutkowski to drop his weapons, they could see he still had one gun pointing at them and opened fire.

Copyright 2013 the Reading Eagle

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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