Police shoot man brandishing rifle

Police shot a Susquehanna man pointing a rifle at them Monday morning, July 20, on a rural road in Great Bend Township at the site of a vehicle crash.

In a report issued by the Pennsylvania State Police, a trooper shot Edward Bentler, age 36, after he refused multiple commands to drop his weapons issued by troopers at the scene on Harmony Road.

Bentler was wanted on a felony arrest warrant stemming from a July 19 robbery and assault when police were dispatched to Harmony Road for a report of a vehicle crash with a man standing outside the vehicle holding a rifle at the PA Fish and Boat Commission Board Launch area. The Hallstead Fire Department was also dispatched and were the first to arrive on the scene.

According to the affidavit filed in New Milford District Court Monday by Cpl. Daniel Nilon, Hallstead Fire Chief Robert Thatcher observed Bentler seated on the rear bumper of a pickup truck, and the front end of the truck was in a deep ditch. Thatcher saw that Bentler was holding a rifle in his lap, backed away and requested an expedited response by PSP to the scene.

Thatcher related to police that Bentler told him he “had a bunch of problems,” according to the affidavit, and he raised the rifle off his lap, showing it to the fire chief.

Two PSP Gibson troopers arrived at the scene about two minutes before the third trooper.

Troopers 1 and 2, as they are identified in the affidavit, observed Bentler standing behind the rear driver’s corner of the truck, holding the rifle and pointing it in the direction of the law enforcement officers. They began issuing repeated verbal commands for Bentler to put the rifle down, but he ignored the commands.

When Trooper 3 arrived, he issued more verbal commands to Bentler to drop his weapon to no avail, according to the affidavit. Bentler continued to hold the rifle pointed in the direction of the troopers and members of the Hallstead Fire Department.

Bentler then moved from behind the pickup truck to where he had clear aim of the troopers.

Trooper 3 then fired three rounds from his patrol rifle, striking Bentler who then dropped to the ground and lost control of the rifle while falling.

The three police officers rushed to the aid of Bentler and began administering first aid, along with members of the volunteer fire company, according to the affidavit.

Bentler was transported to Geisinger CMC Trauma Center in Scranton.

No troopers were injured during the incident.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed Monday in New Milford District Court related to a Sunday, July 19 incident, Bentler repeated punched and kicked a man at a residence on Jefferson Street in Lanesboro then stole a .22 caliber, bolt action rifle from the home before leaving. The victim was in need of medical attention, and had severe facial bruising and swelling.

State police troopers were dispatched to the home at about 3:17 p.m. on Sunday. According to the affidavit, the victim told police that Bentler arrived at the home at about 3 p.m. in search of drugs. The victim told Bentler to leave and an argument then began.

Bentler is accused of striking the victim in the face, causing the man to fall to the ground where Bentler continued the assault with closed fists and kicking, according to the affidavit.

The victim told police that Bentler then stole the rifle from a closet and left the scene in a green Ford pickup truck.

Shortly after the start of the initial investigation, Bentler’s former girlfriend contacted police and said another man drove Bentler to her residence Sunday morning and that he had taken her pickup truck. She told police that Bentler had a set of keys to the vehicle but did not have her permission to drive it.

Bentler faces a slew of charges related to the incidents on July 19 and 20, including three counts of murder of a law enforcement officer of the first degree which the affidavit explains as an attempt to kill the police officers on the scene. He was also charged with aggravated assault; simple assault; receiving stolen property; persons not to possess firearms – following a 2008 conviction on a burglary charge; terroristic threats; and recklessly endangering another person.

In connection to the July 19 incident, Bentler faces charges of aggravated assault; robbery; theft by unlawful taking; possession of a firearm prohibited; simple assault; unauthorized use of motor vehicles; and a summary count of harassment. Those charges were filed by Tpr. Joshua Oliver.

Bentler has not yet been arraigned and no preliminary hearing date has been scheduled.


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