PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A gunman who killed a suburban canine unit police officer who had responded to a car accident ambushed him from an elevated vantage point and later committed suicide amid an ensuing police manhunt, authorities said Friday.
Plymouth Township Officer Bradley Fox, a former Marine, was shot in the head while responding to what began as a three-car accident around 5:45 p.m. Thursday. Investigators said officers conducting traffic control at the scene spotted a speeding sport utility vehicle and Fox and other officers began a pursuit.
Eventually, the officers found the SUV abandoned and Fox and his dog chased the driver into an industrial area alongside the Schuylkill River Trail, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman and Plymouth Township police Chief Joe Lawrence said in a statement Friday. Responding officers later found Fox in the grass between the popular recreational trail and nearby train tracks, with a gunshot wound to the head. He later was pronounced dead.
Fox, who would have turned 35 on Friday, was a seven-year veteran of the police force and as a Marine served two tours of duty in Iraq. He was married with one child, and he and his wife were expecting another.
Gov. Tom Corbett on Friday ordered flags in the Capitol Complex and at commonwealth facilities in Montgomery County to fly at half-staff to honor Fox.
Investigators determined the SUV driver, 44-year-old Andrew Charles Thomas, fired at least four shots at Fox from an elevated point where the officer could not see him.
Police had engaged in a massive manhunt for Thomas, shutting down roads and suspending a regional rail line in the area, 15 miles northwest of Philadelphia. When they found Thomas, he had two gunshot wounds to the chest and was dead, authorities said. His death has been ruled a suicide. Police said the SUV he was driving had been stolen.
At the time of the shooting, authorities said, Thomas was on probation in Montgomery County after pleading guilty to a forgery charge in May involving $140 worth of counterfeit grocery store gift certificates.
Fox's dog is receiving veterinary care after suffering a graze wound.