LIGONIER, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man was ordered to stand trial Wednesday on charges he fatally shot a police officer who responded to a domestic dispute.
Ray Shetler Jr., of New Florence, apologized as he was led in handcuffs into the courtroom, but also seemed to deny shooting St. Clair Township Officer Lloyd Reed on Nov. 28.
Asked whether he was sorry, Shetler said, “Yes, I am. Of course I am. Everybody in Ligonier knows I’d never do a thing like this.”
Ligonier is the town where the preliminary hearing was held.
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During the hearing, police testified Lloyd, 54, was the first to arrive after Shetler’s girlfriend called 911 claiming he had assaulted her. Shetler exited the house with a rifle and shot Lloyd, who fired at Shetler after he refused to drop the gun, police said.
Shetler acknowledged the shooting in an earlier statement to police, but said he fired in self-defense because he didn’t realize Lloyd was a police officer, and that Lloyd fired first, according to a criminal complaint.
Shetler previously pleaded not guilty. His attorney didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment Wednesday.
A recording of the 911 call played at the hearing suggests Shetler knew the police were coming.
The girlfriend told a dispatcher that Shetler bloodied her nose and was drunk and breaking things in her house. About 15 minutes into the call, the girlfriend indicates police had arrived.
“Oh, God, they’re here,” she said to the dispatcher, and then to Shetler: “Ray, don’t you dare.”
Shouting and screaming can be heard in the background, and a second officer who arrived on the scene has said he heard Lloyd repeatedly tell Shetler to drop the weapon. Evidence shows Lloyd fired six shots, the second officer one shot, and that Shetler fired three rounds, one of which hit Lloyd in the left side of the torso, avoiding his bulletproof vest, police have said.
“Please send the ambulance, the officer’s shot,” Shetler’s girlfriend told the dispatcher. She was later heard saying, “Oh my God, are you OK?” apparently talking to Lloyd, who she also encouraged to keep breathing.
Shetler fled the scene and was arrested hours later walking along a rural highway several miles away. Shetler allegedly told the police he lost the rifle he used while swimming across a river, but police have since found a gun they believe is that weapon hidden in some woods near where Shetler was arrested. The weapon was still being tested to confirm it is linked to the shooting.
Shelter was also ordered to stand trial on charges stemming from the domestic dispute, including making terroristic threats, and theft charges for allegedly stealing a truck while he was fleeing police.