Photo: Bruno Girin
Late last week Pennsylvania Wildlife Conservation Officer David Grove was gunned down by a suspected poacher. The 31-year old got into a shoot out after pulling a truck over suspected of using a spotlight to hunt deer at 10:30 pm Thursday. A Pennsylvania community is mourning the loss of one of their own who died in the line of duty Thursday. Officer Grove was pronounced dead at the scene after having been shot four times. Christopher Lynn Johnson is in custody for the murder after pulling a gun when Grove tried to handcuff him. He was wounded in the gunfire exchange.
Grove responded when he noticed a truck pulled over on the side of the road and then heard shots coming from close by the vehicle. Hours later officers recovered a dead spike deer nearby the scene. Johnson was arrested 11 hours later at a nearby campsite and is currently in police custody. Grove had called in the license plate to police before the shootout ensued. Grove knew the danger of his late night patrol and often wore a bullet proof vest for protection.
According to the York Dispatch, online court records confirm that Johnson is a convicted felon. In November of 2005 he pleaded guilty to fleeing or attempting to elude police and endangering the welfare of a child. He pleaded guilty in February 2002 to burglary in two separate cases as well as conspiracy to commit burglary in a third case. He received probation in all three cases, according to records.
Recently, Pennsylvania anti-poaching laws were strengthened. Carl Roe, executive director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said:
Under this [new] legislation, those convicted of killing five or more big game animals, or three big game poaching offenses within seven years, will face possible felony-level penalties ranging from $1,000 to up to $15,000, loss of license privileges for 15 years, and up to three years in prison. In fact, even the poaching of a single deer now carries a minimum of a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail, with five years license revocation.
Johnson likely feared additional jail time but now he's facing the death penalty for the death of an on duty officer. Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner indicated he will seek the ultimate punishment. If an officer is killed on duty in Adams County, the district attorney said, "we will seek the death penalty."