The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

January 30, 2006

Berlin killing justified, DA rules

SOMERSET — A state police sharpshooter was justified in killing a Berlin man in an exchange of gunfire during a New Year’s Day standoff, Somerset County District Attorney Jerry Spangler ruled Monday.

Spangler said Trooper Ronald Salandro, a member of the state police Special Emergency Response Team, was allowed to use deadly force against William Lee Leister to prevent death or serious injury to officers and neighbors.

“The events that occurred were tragic,” Spangler said. “But a greater tragedy was averted because of the actions of the officer in question.

“The officer had a duty to defend the other officers that were involved in this incident and he performed the duty properly.”

Coroner Wallace Miller said he will rule Leister’s death justifiable homicide and will not convene an inquest.

Leister, 38, an off-duty guard at the State Correctional Institution-Laurel Highlands in Somerset Township, was killed after firing 19 shots at SERT troopers from an assault rifle during a 12-hour standoff at his Berlin home.

The standoff began New Year’s Eve after Leister forced a car off a road near Confluence, shot at its occupants, critically wounded a good Samaritan, and abducted the car’s female driver.

Passer-by Larry Glover, 46, of Confluence was treated at Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown after being shot three times while trying to intercede.

The kidnap victim, Ashley Bittinger, 21, of Confluence, said Leister had bailed her out of jail a day earlier on a domestic-violence charge involving her brother.

Leister, Bittinger said, was upset she was not consenting to his romantic advances.

Bittinger walked out of the home on her own before the standoff began.

State police have said Leister was frustrated by Bittinger’s rejection, the breakup with his longtime girlfriend late last year, and the prospect of losing his job and going to jail for the shooting rampage.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    Here are the names of the 10 entrants that were chosen today-April 24, 2014.  If you see your name, call the Circulation Department at 814-532-5000 (#1) or 1-866-307-0905 to verify your information.

    April 24, 2014

  • WilliamsA ‘I thought I was going to die’

    Hornerstown resident Robert “Bobby” Williams said he endured two hours of surgery, suffered a heart attack and fears he may never again be able to fully use his right arm.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    Here are the names of the 10 entrants that were chosen today-April 22, 2014.  If you see your name, call the Circulation Department at 814-532-5000 (#1) or 1-866-307-0905 to verify your information.

    April 22, 2014

  • JFD traing Firefighters practice river rescues

    Johnstown Fire Department members lift a “victim” out of the rescue basket during training Wednesday along the Stonycreek River flood-control wall

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • sewer meeting map Sewer work will tie up traffic

    Brace yourselves.
    This summer’s sewer main replacement project will delay traffic with detours, closed streets and lane restrictions through one of Johnstown’s notoriously snarled neighborhoods.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • USS Somerset USS Somerset arrives at San Diego homeport

    The USS Somerset is home.
    The amphibious transport dock ship named in honor of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 arrived at its new homeport of Naval Base San Diego on Monday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jablonski, Stephen Charges filed in courthouse bomb threat

    A Johnstown man was charged by Ebensburg Borough police Wednesday with threatening to blow up the Cambria County Courthouse, a call he admitted to Ebensburg police he made Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vizza, Peter Vizza voted deputy mayor

    The top vote-getter in last year’s Johnstown City Council election is now also the city’s deputy mayor.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Conemaugh Township rezoning opens business possibilities

    A portion of South Main Street in Davidsville will be rezoned to give greater allowances to the businesses along the road.

    April 23, 2014

  • Sculptor’s work to be raffled off

    The work of a local sculptor will be raffled off during the Art in Bloom show.

    April 23, 2014

Poll

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

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads