FAIRCHANCE, Pa. -
A Pennsylvania state trooper is in critical condition after a man opened fire on him and his partner Friday night in Fayette County in a “senseless, inexplicable act of violence.”
The troopers returned fire and killed Clarence Allan Belsar III, 26, of Fairchance, said Capt. Joseph D. Ruggery of the state police.
Authorities did not release the identity of either trooper at a Saturday morning press conference in Uniontown.
One trooper was treated at Uniontown Hospital for a gunshot wound to the hand and subsequently released, Ruggery said. The other is in critical condition at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.V., after being shot in the abdomen.
“His prognosis is good,” Ruggery said.
The troopers were meeting Belsar around 8:15 p.m. in the parking of the Shop ‘n Save in Fairchance after he offered a PlayStation for sale on Facebook, an item they believed was linked to a series of burglaries in the area, Ruggery said.
After they identified themselves as police, Belsar began to walk away and ignored verbal commands to stop, Ruggery said. When they began to physically restrain him, Belsar pulled a .38-caliber revolver from his waistband and fired one shot, striking both troopers.
The troopers struck him several times with return fire and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Ruggery would not say how many shots the troopers fired.
A witness told Channel 11’s Mike Holden that they were in their car in the Shop 'n Save parking lot when they heard 10-15 gunshots.
Channel 11 found bullet holes in the glass entryway of a nearby senior center.
No one else was injured, Ruggery said. The troopers were dressed professionally but not in uniform, and neither was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Bystanders rushed to the fallen troopers to render first aid and call 911 immediately following the gunfire, he said.
Once they regain their health, both troopers will be placed on administrative duty until an investigation is concluded by the Fayette County district attorney's office, Ruggery said. The state police will conduct their own investigation after that.
Shop 'n Save released the following statement:
“We are deeply saddened by the shootings that occurred in our community and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. We will continue to support the police department in their ongoing investigation. Providing a safe environment for our employees and guests is our number one concern.”
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