HOLLIDAYSBURG - When David Joshua Moore, 26, earlier this month confronted state police with a shotgun in a Roaring Spring cemetery, he didn't intendto shoot police. He instead wanted police to shoot him, according to his testimony Friday in a Blair County courtroom.
Moore was grieving the death of his 3-month-old son and was in the cemetery with a shotgun.
Police were called because of a domestic dispute between Moore and his wife, Macey, and when they found Moore in the cemetery, police said he leveled a 20-gauge shotgun at Trooper Timothy J. Strohmyer.
The troopers drew their weapons in anticipation of a confrontation, but conditions eased when Moore's mother arrived.
When taken into custody, he struggled with police and was not subdued until the troopers used a Taser.
The dramatic incident was played out Friday in the courtroom of Blair County Judge Daniel J. Milliron, who sentenced Moore to three to 23 months in the Blair County Prison followed by five years' probation. Moore is not to possess a gun and is not permitted to drink alcohol during his probation.
"I would never want to go through what you went through. ... Nobody can tell you what it is like to lose a child unless they lost a child," the judge said.
But Million said he had to impose a jail sentence on Moore on the charge of aggravated assault.
The judge said while Moore had suffered a "tremendous loss," he put police officers in the position of fearing for their own lives and of possibly having to shoot him.
Milliron said that the incident had an effect on one of the troopers, who was among officers who confronted Jeffrey Lee Michael, 44, an enraged gunman who killed two people and wounded three officers in a fatal gun battle in December in Geeseytown.
The judge said that Moore is to be referred for grief counseling, enrollment in the jail's drug and alcohol program and, if possible, one-on-one counseling.
Milliron said he would not oppose work release for Moore but that will be up to the county jail.
The judge was presented with a lengthy letter from Moore's wife, who said her husband is not a criminal or a felon.
"He is a man who made a mistake because he was having a hard time trying to find a way to live after our son died," she wrote.
Moore told the judge, "If it wasn't for alcohol this never would have happened."
The police affidavit of probable cause said after Moore was taken into custody, he gave a statement indicating he was drinking whiskey early on May 5 when the incident occurred.
He said he went to the cemetery between Girard Street and Cemetery Avenue in Roaring Spring, where his son is buried.
Moore said he went there to commit suicide, which is why he had a shotgun with him.
"I do know about suicide by cop," he said. Moore insisted he didn't point the gun at Strohmyer and he said the incident was defused when his mother grabbed him.
"She was trying to be a good mom," he said.
Moore had been through two months of Marine basic training when his son died. He never completed his stint with the Marine Corps.
His wife called Moore "an amazing father" to the couple's two other children.
She said in her letter to Milliron that Moore doesn't need jail but needs help "coping and expressing his feelings better."
Moore has been in prison since May 5, which means his minimum sentence will be completed this summer.
"I don't believe you were going to kill the officers, but they didn't know that," Milliron told Moore.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.