SOMERSET, Pa. - A state trooper investigating a burglary at a western Pennsylvania grocery store Friday fatally shot the suspect when he pointed what turned out to be a BB gun at him, police said.
The suspect, identified as 40-year-old Michael Lowrey, of Somerset, died at the scene, police said.
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Two troopers responded to a burglar alarm at the Save-A-Lot grocery store in Somerset around 4 a.m. and found the rear door pried open, state police said.
While searching the store, one trooper heard a noise in a dark storage area and confronted Lowrey, who was wearing dark clothing and holding a black handgun, police said. Lowrey was ordered to drop the weapon, but instead he pointed it at the trooper, police said. The trooper fired, hitting Lowrey in the torso, state police said.
It was only after the shooting that troopers realized the weapon was a BB gun, police said.
“In the pictures it looks exactly like a handgun would look. Very alarming,” said Trooper Steve Limani.
Three active warrants were out for Lowrey in connection to other burglaries, according to police. He may have had ties to dozens more.
“We're thinking upwards of 30 other incidents that he may have been involved in,” said Somerset County District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser.
State police have investigated reported burglaries over the past several months in the area where the grocery store is located, police said.
On Wednesday, they said, video surveillance cameras recorded a man wearing dark clothing and apparently armed with a handgun forcibly entering a store adjacent to the grocery store around the same time of day.
State police said their investigation is continuing.
The troopers were not identified. The trooper who shot Lowrey was an 11-year veteran of the state police and was not hurt, state police said.