Operation Our Town applauds state policemen

Three Pennsylvania state police troopers and a communications officer received Operation Our Town’s 2013 Law Enforcement Award on Thursday.

Troopers Timothy A. Strohmeyer and David W. Nazaruk, Cpl. Kevin A. Campbell and Police Communications Operator Justin Butterworth were recognized at the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Club at The Casino at Lakemont Park for their heroic efforts in the Dec. 21 shooting rampage in the Geeseytown area, which left four people dead.

Capt. Maynard H. Gray, commanding officer of the Hollidaysburg barracks, said Butterworth received a 911 call about 9 a.m. that morning from a woman who said a neighbor had shot at her and her husband and that her husband was dead. Butterworth almost immediately received another 911 call regarding the shooting of a female at a residence, which turned out to be a church.

“PCO Butterworth immediately dispatched troopers to the Geeseytown area. He provided troopers with accurate descriptions about the shooter and his direction of travel,” Gray said.

Gray provided a narrative of the events that morning. Another man was also shot and killed before Strohmeyer and Nazaruk encountered a truck driven by Jeffrey Michael, the shooter. Gray said Michael fired two shots at Strohmeyer through the windshield, which also broke out the vehicle’s rear window. Michael then shot at Nazaruk’s vehicle. Bullets hit the window and fragments of glass and lead hit him in the face and eyes, Gray said.

Campbell was about a half-mile away and was the next officer to encounter the shooter. Gray said Michael rammed Campbell’s vehicle head-on, setting the engine compartment on fire. Strohmeyer steered his vehicle into the rear of Michael’s truck to divert his attention away from Campbell, Gray said. Michael then started shooting at Strohmeyer, and Strohmeyer and Campbell returned fire, Gray said. Michael was killed in the shootout.

Strohmeyer was struck in the chest and wrist, but the shot into his chest was stopped by his protective armor. Campbell suffered injuries from the crash. All three officers were treated at Altoona Regional.

“On Dec. 21, those officers upheld the state police call of honor. Their acts were exemplary. It is unknown how many lives they possibly saved by stopping the actions of Jeffrey Michael,” Gray said.

Operation Our Town also presented the 2013 Community Partnership Award to the Booker T. Washington Revitalization Corp., whose mission is to support and enhance the building of parks and recreational places in central Blair County.

“We are honored to receive this. We love what we do. We enjoy making Blair County a better place to live,” President Kathy Plunkett said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.