The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

July 18, 2013

Indiana County death justified

District attorney clears trooper in shooting of former deputy

David Hurst

BRUSH VALLEY — A trooper’s bullet claimed the life of a former Indiana County sheriff’s deputy following a July 8 domestic dispute, investigators say.

But an investigation by the Indiana County District Attorney’s Office determined Thursday that police were justified in firing on Gary Wissinger that night after he allegedly came out his front door pointing a revolver at responding officers.

“Any incident involving the loss of a life is a serious one,” District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said in a statement Thursday, calling the incident “tragic.”

“But a greater tragedy was averted because of the actions of the officer in question,” he said.

A criminal complaint filed the night of the incident said Trooper Chad Corbett fired at least six shots at Wissinger.

The complaint, charging Wissinger with aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person, was withdrawn after Wissinger was discovered deceased in his home later that morning.

Wissinger died of multiple gunshot wounds inside his home, located along Route 56, after retreating from troopers’ fire, the coroner said.

Dougherty confirmed police had been sent to Wissinger’s home multiple times during the past year on domestic calls.

The night Wissinger was shot, he reportedly was drunk and arguing with his wife. The incident prompted the call to 911, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Wissinger was a former county sheriff’s deputy who previously worked as a corrections officer in Indiana County, county officials confirmed earlier this month.

Neighbors said he retired in recent years, partly because of health issues. He raised two children in the home and lived alone for some time before remarrying this year.

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