DILLSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania police sergeant shot himself to death after officers came to arrest him for committing a burglary at his estranged wife’s home and then trying to frame her boyfriend for it, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Susquehanna Township Police Sgt. Ronald Reinhart Jr. planted jewelry from the break-in at the boyfriend’s home and then called in an anonymous tip to say the boyfriend was responsible for the crime, Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed said.
Reinhart, 41, held police at bay on Monday afternoon for hours at his home outside Dillsburg, about 14 miles southwest of Harrisburg. They were there to arrest him for stealing four jewelry boxes and a laptop from his wife’s home on July 25.
Freed said authorities suspect Reinhart may have been planning something even worse.
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“There was some evidence found that indicated there was the potential for a violent act planned,” Freed said. “Now whether that involved the estranged wife or the new boyfriend or both, I don’t know.”
Shortly after the break-in, Reinhart called police under his own name to say he was investigating the boyfriend for retail thefts, but Freed said both the thefts and the investigation were completely invented.
Then, three days after the break-in, Reinhart placed an anonymous call to 911, blaming the crime on the boyfriend and directing investigators to the man’s home, where Reinhart had planted the stolen items.
Freed said Reinhart used his law enforcement position to obtain information about the boyfriend. Reinhart’s fingerprints were found on one of the jewelry boxes. Investigators recovered store video showing him buying the prepaid cellphone used to call in the anonymous tip.
Authorities said Reinhart would have been charged with burglary, official oppression, obstruction and other offenses. Police tried twice to draw him out of the house, and brought in the special response team only after Reinhart broke off contact, Freed said.
He was found dead inside.
Freed said Reinhart’s motive wasn’t clear. It appears his estranged wife had recently moved out, the prosecutor said.
Reinhart joined the suburban Harrisburg police department in 1998. The Susquehanna Township chief described Monday as the most horrific day of his own career.
This story has been corrected to show it occurred near Dillsburg, 14 miles southwest of Harrisburg, not Carroll, south of Pittsburgh.