As North Union Township police officers attempted to pull over a vehicle near Ohioplye State Park, in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, the situation immediately escalated to a dangerously violent one. Earlier, police were alerted to be on the look-out for a vehicle with West Virginia license plates, in which this vehicle matched the description. Yet, what initially began as a traffic stop quickly erupted into a pursuit, shoot-out, and an extensive standoff.
On Friday, September 27, 2013, at approximately 12:00PM, two occupants of a pick-up truck with West Virginia license plates were ordered to stop and pull over. They did not adhere to the officers’ orders, and a pursuit was initiated as the occupants of the vehicle slid open the back window and began firing shots toward them, as well as the state troopers, who began pursuing the vehicle on Bute Road. Fortunately, no officials were injured.
As police barricades were set in the area, a lock-down of the schools in the Laurel Highlands School District was issued, which consisted of Laurel Highlands High School, as well as Clark and Marshall elementary schools. The pursuit came to an end when the driver crashed the truck into a house on North Gallatin Avenue in Uniontown. The occupants of the vehicle escaped into the home of Norma Sherlock, at 216 Center Avenue, where they barricaded themselves inside. One of the suspects surrendered and the woman, identified as Jessica Lynn Phillips, was taken into custody. At the time, the police and state troopers, who were surrounding the home, also believed that the suspect took the home-owner hostage. Thankfully, soon after, they realized that she was safe at a neighbor’s house after volunteering at a senior citizen center.
While the standoff was still in progress, the lock-down of the schools was lifted and the students were able to return home, with the exception of those who lived in the surrounding area of the scene. Those who lived near the area were not able to go home until the situation was resolved. The standoff lasted several hours, but ended Friday evening. The police confirmed that the suspect, believed to be Donald Ray Brown, was found dead inside the home. Brown’s cause of death is currently under investigation, but it is believed to be suicide. Phillips is being charged with four counts of aggravated assault, attempted homicide, conspiracy to commit homicide, three counts of reckless endangerment, fleeing or attempting to elude the police, and a number of other charges. She is currently in Fayette County Prison and is being held on a $1 million bond.
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