HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – An 11-year veteran of the U.S. Marshals Service was shot and killed and a police officer was wounded while serving an arrest warrant in Harrisburg early Thursday.
Officers returned fire and killed the gunman. Authorities identified him as 31-year-old Kevin Sturgis, a Philadelphia man with two active warrants from his hometown.
U.S. Attorney David Freed said members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force were serving an arrest warrant on a woman who lived in the 1800 block of Mulberry Street. Sturgis opened fire on the team, killing Deputy U.S. Marshal Christopher David Hill and injuring York police officer Kyle Pitts, a member of the task force that includes state and local police officers.
A Harrisburg police officer on the team was also struck by gunfire to his body armor but was not injured.
“The officers knocked at the residence, announced their presence, and made entry,” Freed said. “The subject of the warrant and some minor children appeared on the second floor of the residence. The officers identified themselves, and the subject of the warrant was placed in handcuffs. At that point, the officers heard gunfire that appeared to emanate from the second floor of the residence.”
Hill and Pitts were struck by the initial gunfire inside the home. Other members of the task force removed them from the house and came under fire again.
“Preliminary indications from the investigation indicate that the male individual then exited the front of the residence, firing at law enforcement officers,” Freed said. “Gunfire was returned and that male was killed in front of the residence.”
Hill was transported to UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg hospital where he died.
Pitts, a 10-year veteran of the York City Police Department, was taken to Penn State Hershey Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. He is expected to survive.
“Christopher Hill died a hero today,” Freed said. “We will honor his memory by standing with his family and his brothers and sisters in law enforcement.”
“Our community has lost a hero who was doing nothing more than his duty,” he added.
U.S. Marshal Martin Payne said Hill joined the Marshals Service in 2006 in Washington, D.C. and transferred to Harrisburg in 2009.
Hill served with the U.S. Marshal Service’s prestigious and highly-trained Special Operations Unit. He was also an Army veteran, having served from 1993-96.
He is survived by his wife and two children.
“Deputy Hill served the American people and the citizens of this community with courage. He will be missed, and words cannot say how much,” Payne said. “I ask that you keep his wife and two children in your thoughts and prayers.during this difficult time.”
The U.S. Marshals Service said the warrant was for the arrest of 30-year-old Shayla Lynette Towles Pierce, who was wanted by Harrisburg police for terroristic threats, illegal possession of a firearm, and simple assault. She was placed in Dauphin County Prison on $200,000 bail.
The two children who were in her home likely were placed with family members or the county’s child protective services agency, Freed said.
Pierce’s relationship to Sturgis wasn’t clear.
His active warrants were for failure to appear for sentencing on a firearms charge, and for failure to appear for a violation of probation hearing on original charges of receiving stolen property, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, and unauthorized use of an automobile.
He also had a juvenile adjudication on a charge of rape, authorities said.
The Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office will investigate whether the use of police force was justified.
“I know that preliminarily, based on the fact that the dead suspect opened fire first, it appears preliminarily, obviously, that it was a justified use of deadly force,” District Attorney Fran Chardo said, “but we must complete a complete investigation before formally making that determination.”
Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey offered their condolences to Hill’s family in statements posted on Twitter.
“Frances and I saddened to hear this tragic news,” Wolf wrote. “Praying for the officers involved and their families. I am in constant contact with law enforcement, and grateful for their swift action.”
“My prayers go out to the family and friends of the deputy U.S. marshal killed this morning in Harrisburg,” Toomey posted. “Law enforcement officers face incredible dangers in keeping us safe. They should always have our support and gratitude.”
“My deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the U.S. Marshal who lost his life today in Harrisburg,” Casey said.
Wolf has ordered Pennsylvania flag at the Capitol Complex and throughout the state to fly at half-staff to honor Hill, beginning immediately through interment.