Western PA police officer killed in line of duty
A tip led troopers to Ray Shetler Jr., 31, who was found walking along a road about 3 a.m. Sunday near a power plant just outside of New Florence. He is accused of shooting Officer Lloyd Reed Jr., 54, on Saturday night after Reed responded to a reported domestic situation at a home on Ligonier Street. Reed was pronounced dead at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown.
State police on Sunday charged Shetler with one count of criminal homicide. Online court records indicate he has not yet been arraigned. Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said he also would be charged with two other counts related to the domestic situation.
Reed arrived at the scene and identified himself as a police officer before shots were fired, Peck said. He declined to release additional information.
“This is another horrible tragedy that brings to light how difficult a police officer’s job can be on a daily basis,” Peck said. “A police officer responding to a domestic call is typical, and too many of these tragedies happen in this manner.”
Cambria County Deputy Coroner Jeff Lees is conducting an autopsy.
Officers from multiple departments gathered Sunday morning at the township police station, just outside of Seward. Flags had been lowered to half-staff, and officers inside had black bands over their badges.
Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all United States and commonwealth flags in the Capitol Complex and at all commonwealth facilities in Westmoreland County to be lowered to half-staff in Reed’s honor.
“Thoughts and prayers are with family and colleagues of St. Clair Township Officer Lloyd Reed who was killed in the line of duty last night,” Wolf said in a statement. “Today, and every day, we are reminded of those that make the ultimate sacrifice to keep our communities safe.”
Reed was a veteran officer who had worked in law enforcement for more than 20 years, trooper Stephen Limani said. He worked for about five years at the St. Clair department, which employs all part-time officers.
Sheriff Jonathan Held offered his department’s assistance to the township force. Reed lived with his wife in Hollsopple in Somerset County, he said.
“He was a dedicated officer, down to earth,” said Held, who met Reed on several occasions. “He really cared for the community. It’s hard when it hits your own backyard. It really is tough. But, unfortunately, it seems to be happening more and more today.”
Ligonier police Chief John Berger said Reed used to work for departments at Seven Springs and in New Florence.
“We’d cross paths at the magistrate’s office and he seemed like a nice guy,” Berger said.
Shetler was being treated for a gunshot wound to the right shoulder, and then will be transported to the Greensburg station for questioning, Limani said.
Shetler’s girlfriend, Kristin Luther, owns the Ligonier Street home where the shooting occurred, members of Shetler’s family said. She sustained minor injuries, Limani said.
Several of Shetler’s relatives said they were shocked to learn of the shooting, describing his alleged actions as out of character.
“My son would not just do this,” said his mother, Lorie Porter of Saltsburg. “He is not that type of person.”
Porter, 51, said she is trying to find out more details surrounding the shooting. Luther could not be reached for comment.
“It’s a tragedy, and none of us can believe it,” Porter said. “He’s a very good, loving kid who would do anything in the world for anyone.”
Shetler’s aunt Wendy Kenley of New Florence said she went to Luther’s residence as soon as she heard about the shooting. When she arrived, Luther was on the ground, trying to assist the fallen officer.
“I heard his girlfriend saying, ‘breathe,’” Kenley, 46, said. “I thought something was wrong with Ray. I walked over and saw the cop, and that’s how I found out.”
Porter and Kenley extended their condolences to Reed’s family, even as they tried to piece together the circumstances that led to the shooting.
“I’m very sorry for their loss,” Porter said.
Kenley said her nephew “is a very respectful and sweet guy who would do anything for anyone. I don’t want people to think he’s some kind of monster.”
She said police have not allowed any family members to visit Shetler to try to determine how the shooting unfolded. They were not permitted to see him, she said, when they went to the hospital where he was undergoing treatment for a gunshot wound.
For anyone interested in making a donation, checks can be made payable to the Officer Lloyd Reed Jr. Fund and sent to the Western Pennsylvania Police Benevolent Foundation in care of Tim Kreger, 337 Winners Circle, Canonsburg, PA 15317. Donations also may be sent to Washington Financial in care of the Lloyd Reed Jr. Fund, 3616 Washington Road, McMurray, PA 15317.
Electronic donations can be made at www.wppbf.org/donate.