Officers awarded for their efforts in Geesytown shooting
Pennsylvania State Police honored three local state troopers Monday for their efforts during a Dec. 21 shooting rampage in Geeseytown that left four dead and all three troopers injured.
Trooper Timothy A. Strohmeyer was presented the department’s Medal of Honor, its highest award, as well as a purple heart and Trooper of the Year awards for his efforts in stopping Jeffrey Lee Michael of Hollidaysburg, who had fatally shot three people and was firing at troopers.
Strohmeyer and Trooper David W. Nazaruk were the first to encounter Michael, as he was driving his truck in the opposite direction along Juniata Valley Road in Frankstown Township, away from the scene where Kimberly Scott, William Rhodes and Kenneth Lynn had just been killed.
As they passed, police said Michael fired shots at both Strohmeyer’s and Nazaruk’s cruisers, causing bits of glass and shrapnel to strike Nazaruk in the face and eyes.
Despite their injuries, both continued to pursue Michael as he headed toward Cpl. Kevin A. Campbell, who was approaching the scene.
Police said as he got closer, Michael accelerated and rammed Campbell’s cruiser head-on, disabling the vehicle and setting the engine compartment on fire.
The impact also jammed the driver’s side door with Campbell still inside.
In an attempt to draw Michael’s fire, police said Strohmeyer then rammed his cruiser into the rear of Michael’s truck. Michael charged and shot at Strohmeyer, who was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Bullets struck Strohmeyer in the chest and wrist as he and Campbell returned fire, killing Michael. The vest likely saved Strohmeyer’s life, police later said.
“Trooper Strohmeyer, even after being struck in the chest and hand, drew his service weapon and returned fire until he had stopped the actions of the suspect,” said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan in a press release.
“This [Medal of Honor] award is presented to members or enforcement officers distinguished by a gallant and intrepid action, which was above and beyond the call of duty,” Noonan said.
Nazaruk and Campbell received commendation medals for their actions, with Nazaruk also receiving a purple heart.
The awards were presented at the State Police Academy in Hershey.
“The exemplary actions of Trooper Strohmeyer, along with Corporal Campbell and Trooper Nazaruk, exhibited great personal courage while putting their own lives on the line in an attempt to stop a killer,” Noonan said. “The troopers, while injured, engaged the suspect and terminated any additional threat to the lives of other persons in the community.”
The three men, along with Police Communications Operator Justin Butterworth, earlier this year received Operation Our Town’s 2013 Law Enforcement Award at the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Club Feb. 14 at The Casino at Lakemont Park.