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PA gunman kills three, killed by police

A gunman in central Pennsylvania fatally shot three people Friday morning, including a woman who was hanging Christmas decorations inside a church, during a bloody rampage that spread terror along a stretch of two-lane country road in central Pennsylvania.

The gunman was shot and killed by state troopers after he opened fire at officers and rammed his pickup truck into a patrol car. He had multiple firearms, but the authorities have not yet disclosed what type.

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Three troopers were wounded, but not seriously, officials said.

The armed man was not believed to have been related to any of the victims. He was identified only as a resident of Blair County, where the shootings occurred.

Law enforcement officials were stunned by the outburst of violence in the largely rural, agricultural community near Hollidaysburg, Pa., about 40 miles southwest of Pennsylvania State University and 100 miles east of Pittsburgh.

‘'We have three very fortunate state police members tonight,’’ Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said at a news conference Friday.

What is believed to have been the first shooting took place about 9 a.m. at Juniata Valley Gospel Church on Juniata Valley Road near Route 22 when the gunman fatally shot a woman in the church’s fellowship hall.

The woman, who was in her 50s, had been decorating for a children’s Christmas party, said Philip McCaulley, the son of the church’s preacher.

The authorities said there were five crime scenes in the community, including the driveway of a house where the gunman shot a man, and a spot in the road in which the gunman apparently struck a driver with his truck before shooting him dead.

The names of the victims have not been released.

The state police said they received the first of several 911 calls about shots being fired along Juniata Valley Road about 9 a.m.

Responding officers were met by the suspect in his pickup. He fired at two passing squad cars, Bivens said. One of the officers was injured by flying glass but managed to turn his vehicle and follow the gunman.

As the gunman fled, he encountered a third squad car, which he drove into head-on, disabling both vehicles, Bivens said.

The gunman then got out of his truck and shot the officer twice, in the wrist and chest. A bulletproof vest minimized the injuries, Bivens said. Other troopers returned fire, killing the gunman, he said.

Serge F. Kovaleski and Timothy Williams contributed reporting.
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