- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 29, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A prosecutor in central Pennsylvania said Wednesday a state trooper was justified in fatally shooting a man who fired several shots and held police at bay outside a county jail earlier this month.

Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner announced that conclusion after looking into the deadly shooting of Jess Leipold, 32, outside the Adams County Prison on April 9.

Wagner said Sgt. Matt Nickey, the ranking officer at the scene, reasonably believed he needed to shoot Leipold to prevent others from being hurt or killed. Leipold was struck once in the base of the back of his neck and died at a hospital the next day.

The investigation found Nickey shot Leipold after Leipold aimed his rifle toward the front of the Adams County Prison outside Gettysburg.

“Sgt. Nickey shot the gunman in order to save the lives of correctional officers who were present in the lobby of the Adams County prison, 30 yards from where the gunman was aiming,” Wagner said.

Wagner said Leipold had no criminal record and authorities found no indication he had ever had a mental health commitment, but residents of a nearby homeless shelter where he had been staying for several weeks in March and early April described him as paranoid.

Leipold told others at the shelter he was being followed by the CIA, FBI and government drones. A note was found in his backpack at the scene that referred to “your childish games,” and “wars against humanity” and said that “the chainsaw killer have come out to play.”

Wagner said investigators suspect he chose the prison because that was the closest government building to the homeless shelter, a half-mile away.

Leipold, dressed in camouflage, rode a bicycle to the prison, pointed a handgun at the chest of a female correctional officer and then engaged in a half-hour confrontation with police outside the prison. Wagner said he fired nine rounds from a rifle during the standoff, mocked police and told one trooper to “take the shot.”

“Sgt. Nickey was faced with a split-second decision in this case, and he clearly made the proper decision and saved the lives of the correctional officers inside the lobby,” Wagner said.

Leipold had lived in Lancaster County and New Oxford. Wagner said Leipold’s relatives told investigators he suffered from undiagnosed mental illness and had threatened suicide in the past.

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