Friendly Fire to Blame in Shooting of Baldwin Boro Police Officer
The shooting occurred at around 4 a.m. on Sunday at a home on Elmwood Drive.
A Baldwin Borough police sergeant remains in stable condition at a Pittsburgh-area hospital, where he is being treated for gunshot wounds in his hip/lower back area, according to Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt.
Baldwin Council Vice President Michael Stelmasczyk confirmed that the injured officer is Sgt. Ralph Miller.
Miller was injured by two rifle blasts from another Baldwin police officer while they and a third Baldwin officer were responding to a domestic disturbance at 5147 Elmwood Dr. in Baldwin (near the Wallace Building) at around 4 Sunday morning.
The other two officers are not being identified and have been placed on administrative leave, Baldwin Police Chief Michael Scott said.
"We want to make sure that they're OK before they come back to work," Scott said.
The leave will include counseling.
"We want to make sure that their needs are met, too," Scott said.
The shooting of Miller is being treated as accidental, Moffatt and Scott said during a news conference at the county police headquarters on Sunday.
The third officer also fired his weapon but did not hit anyone.
"The injured officer did not fire," Moffatt explained. "The officer behind him fired his weapon twice. There was another officer still further away from the house. He hears the shots, sees the officer go down. He levels his weapon and fires once, striking the outside of the home.
"We believe that the (injured) officer was hit twice. We didn't find any other slugs at the home."
Officers were sent to the scene after a woman who lives at 5147 Elmwood called police to tell them that her boyfriend, who also lives there, was holding a gun and was threatening to harm himself, Moffatt said.
She eventually told police that her boyfriend had calmed down and was no longer making such threats, but police—the three Baldwin officers and one Whitehall Borough officer—responded to the scene.
Miller approached the home in front of the other officers. At that point, one of the Baldwin officers behind him discharged his rifle, striking the sergeant.
As to why the officer pulled the trigger, "That's what we're still trying to sort out," Moffatt said.
Scott said that Miller, a police officer for 14 years, is "in good spirits" and is "supportive" of the officer who injured him.
No other injuries have been reported, and at this point, the residents of 5147 Elmwood are not being identified nor charged with any crimes.
"At this time, there's no charges," Moffatt said. "We're going to confer with the (district attorney) and see if there's any other charges that should (be filed). We're looking at possible charges not connected with the shooting."
Two children were inside of the home at the time of the shooting—a 17-month-old and a 6-year-old, Moffatt said.
The boyfriend's gun, a shotgun, was found outside of the home, Moffatt said.
"It was thrown out of a window outside of the home, in the rear of the home. We don't know when it was thrown."
With three officers unavailable until futher notice, Scott said that Baldwin Borough police will receive assistance covering their jurisdiction from Pennsylvania State police and police from neighboring municipalities.
A knock at the door of 5147 Elmwood at around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday went unanswered. Next-door neighbor Dave Shearer, who has lived at his Baldwin home for about six years, said that he was awake at the time of the shooting and heard all three loud bangs.
Another neighbor, who did not wish to be indentified, said that the folks at 5147 Elmwood were usually "very quiet."
"They're nice people," she said. "They're very nice. They're quiet. We'll see 'em out a couple times and say hi, exchange a few words. We never thought anything like that."
Said Stelmasczyk, "This was a tragic event, and my sympathy goes out to Sgt. Miller and his family. I wish him a speedy recovery."
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