NAZARETH, Pa. (AP/WTXF) - A Pennsylvania State Police corporal clung to life Tuesday after he was shot three times during a gunfight with a motorist he'd tried to arrest for driving under the influence, authorities said.
The 22-year-old suspect has been charged with the attempted murder of a police officer, aggravated assault, resisting arrest and escape.
The corporal, a 14-year veteran of the State police, underwent surgery and was in "extremely critical" but stable condition after a routine traffic stop escalated into a violent altercation on a highway in Plainfield Township, Northampton County, said State Police Capt. Richard D'Ambrosio.
He said he is "very hopeful" the trooper will survive.
"He's a warrior. He went through a heck of a fight out here along the side of the road. He has a will to live, and, God willing, he is going to pull through this," D'Ambrosio told reporters outside a hospital in Fountain Hill, where the trooper was flown for treatment.
The trooper works at the Belfast barracks. His name was not immediately released.
He had ticketed the motorist for speeding Tuesday morning and was about to pull away when the motorist flagged him down, wanting to discuss the citation and how he would pay it, authorities said.
The corporal began to suspect the motorist was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, called for backup and performed a sobriety test. The troopers then tried to arrest the motorist, who began resisting, D'Ambrosio said.
"The troopers were in a knock-down, drag-out fight along the side of the road with vehicles speeding by them, and it got very, very violent," said D'Ambrosio, who viewed video of the altercation.
At some point, the suspect broke free, ran to his car, retrieved a gun and began shooting, striking one of the troopers, he said. Both troopers returned fire, hitting the suspect several times.
The motorist fled in a blue Pontiac sedan and drove himself to Easton Hospital. He was later transferred to another hospital, where he underwent surgery.
State police gathered evidence from suspect's car, which was parked near the emergency room entrance of Easton Hospital and appeared to have its rear window shot out. It was later put on a flatbed and driven away.
State police say video of the fight and arrest was captured on dash cameras. An update on the trooper's condition and the suspect are expected Wednesday morning at a 10 a.m. press conference.
The State police and the Northampton County District Attorney are handling the investigation.
Gov. Tom Wolf tweeted that he is "praying for this trooper and their family."
Governor Tom Wolf also released the following statement:
"Frances and I are praying for this trooper, the family and every member of the Pennsylvania State Police. This senseless act of violence is a reminder of the sacrifices made daily by all our brave men and women in uniform. Across Pennsylvania, our troopers are keeping communities safe by putting themselves in harm's way. We must never forget that. I ask all Pennsylvanians to join us in keeping all those affected, especially the corporal, in their thoughts today."