The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

June 26, 2013

Police: Clymer killing was over drugs

CLYMER — An Indiana County man was gunned down Monday because two men were tired of his “ripping them off” for drugs, police said.

State police based in Indiana said James Alexander, 46, of Ernest, met the men on a Clymer walking trail to sell them heroin. Instead, he was shot in the head and robbed, investigators said.

In a criminal complaint filed Tuesday evening, troopers alleged that Christopher W. Salsgiver, 22, of Glen Campbell, fired the shot that killed Alexander.

Salsgiver and an accomplice, Gregory Patterson, 33, also of Glen Campbell, took off with more than $300 in cash and two packaged “bricks” of heroin, police said in the complaint.

A witness who was on the trail during the initial drug exchange said he saw Salsgiver pull a gun from his shirt and yell for Alexander to “get on the ground” moments before a shot was fired, according to police.

“Patterson said that Salsgiver had the gun and pulled the trigger ... that it was planned and they were tired of Alexander ripping them off,” Trooper Douglas Snyder wrote in the complaint. He said Patterson gave police a recorded statement during an interview Tuesday.

Alexander was at a party earlier that night but left for a walk on the Clymer trail between Sage Street and Route 403 in town.

Friends heard shots fired a short time later, police said.

Indiana County Chief Deputy Coroner Jerry L. Overman Jr. said friends found Alexander’s body along the trail shortly after 9:20 p.m.

An entrance to the paved bike trail, which runs through wooded former railroad property along the edge of the downtown, was reopened by Wednesday. The entrance had been blocked off with caution tape earlier in the week. The trail appeared to be empty all afternoon.

About a block away, Clymer resident Mick Cogley, 46, sat on the back patio of a social club, reflecting on bus rides with Alexander when both were in middle school 30 years ago.

Cogley  described the stocky Alexander as a “quiet guy” in school who somehow earned the nickname “Pork.”

“Back then, we stuck up for each other because we were pretty much the only minorities in the school,” said Cogley, who is of Asian descent.

Alexander, who was black, usually turned the other cheek, Cogley said, while he fought back.

“Honestly, I don’t ever remember him losing his temper,” Cogley said, adding that he’d seen less of Alexander in the decades since.

Alexander got in “some trouble” and spent time in jail once or twice, he added, and then returned to Clymer a few years ago.

In town, Alexander “pretty much kept to himself,” Cogley said.

Court records show Alexander was arrested or cited a handful of times over the past five years, including burglary and theft charges in 2012.

Alexander met his assailants Monday looking to sell them drugs and apparently knew the men, state police said.

Residents in the small community in Penns Manor School District called Monday’s homicide a glaring example of a growing drug problem in town. Many said they did not feel safe commenting publicly.

Clymer, like so many small towns, is struggling to battle drug issues, said one resident, Jake Patterson – no relation to the Glen Campbell man accused in the crime.

“It’s an everyday thing – I know that,” Jake Patterson said. “But I don’t feel unsafe here. This is the first incident like this I can remember happening in the 40 years I’ve been here.”

‘I’ve raised my family here ... this is a pretty good town,” he added.

Clymer Mayor Dennis Clawson called Monday’s incident troubling in a town “so near and dear to my heart,” but said it was premature to comment because borough and state police are still investigating the case.

Both suspects are being held without bail in the Indiana County Jail on homicide charges as well as aggravated assault, robbery and conspiracy to assault and robbery, police said.

Preliminary hearings are scheduled for Tuesday before District Judge George Thachik of Clymer.



Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • Flower2 Flowers' color doesn't have to fade

    Those pots of bright yellow daffodils, Easter lilies and hyacinths gracing the home this weekend do not have to end up in the trash bin when the blooms start to fade.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Refinancing could lower Richland School District's debt by $2.2M

    When Richland School District borrowed funds for its high school project a decade ago, board members circled “2014” on their calendars as a likely first option to refinance the debt.

    April 20, 2014

  • Pipeline to carry shale byproducts

    An 8-inch transmission line crossing Pennsylvania, including four municipalities in Cambria County, is being repurposed to carry some of the by-products from Marcellus and Utica shale production.

    April 20, 2014

  • Judge Creany, Timothy Vets courts gain support

    Signs of success are mostly anecdotal in Pennsylvania’s special courts for veterans, but judicial officials and lawmakers are so convinced of the program, they’re lobbying to expand it.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • pow21 Person of the Week: ‘I wanted to help’: Teen uses birthday to show love for children, animals

    Anastasia Machik’s love for children and animals inspired her to forgo her birthday gifts for the sake of the two.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Students taking steps to call attention to child abuse

    An upcoming community walk will help raise awareness of child abuse.

    April 20, 2014

  • In brief: PennDOT reports weekly work schedule

    April 20, 2014

  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads