Wounded Pa. deputy killed suspect who shot him in face

Michael Lutz, a five-year veteran of the sheriff's office, was in stable condition

The York Dispatch

YORK, Pennsylvania — A York County sheriff's deputy, assisting in serving a warrant, was shot in the face Thursday morning in an exchange of gunfire with a suspect in York.

The bullet struck the deputy in the cheek, said York County Sheriff Richard Keuerleber, who described the wound as "through and through."

The deputy, Michael Lutz, a five-year veteran of the sheriff's office, was in stable condition and was expected to fully recover, Keuerleber said.

The sheriff visited the deputy in York Hospital's intensive care unit and said, "He's in good spirits."

"Mike's a very upbeat guy," Keuerleber said. "He's very cheerful. He was 'thumbs up' when I saw him in the hospital."

Lutz returned fire and fatally wounded the suspect, identified by the York County Coroner's Office as James Allen Nickol, 38, of no fixed address. Coroner Pam Gay said Nickol had been living in York.

She said Nickol, shot multiple times, was pronounced dead at 11:38 a.m., and his family was notified.

Nickol had been in York County Prison since Feb. 26 on burglary and receiving stolen property charges, a prison records official said. He walked off the prison's work release facility on Wednesday, according to the prison's records department.

Online court records show that Nickol was charged by Pennsylvania State Police on Wednesday with felony escape.

Thursday's events began shortly before 9 a.m. when two deputies went to a residential area in the 900 block of East Philadelphia Street in search of Nickol, the sheriff said.

Lutz encountered Nickol in the rear of the home, where an exchange of gunfire occurred. Lutz suffered gunshot injuries to his face and thumb.

"We are extremely grateful that Deputy Lutz survived this incident," Keuerleber wrote in a news release. "We are very fortunate and honored to serve every day with true professionals like Deputy Lutz."

Alexis Kaschenbach, who lives across Philadelphia Street from where the shooting occurred, said she was just leaving her house to take her daughter to day care when she spotted two deputies in her breezeway.

They yelled "get out, get out!" she said.

Kaschenbach went behind her house and then heard 10 to 12 gunshots, followed by a scream. "It sounded like they were emptying their guns," she said. "It scared the crap out of me."

A neighbor talks about what she witnessed when a shooting occurred on Thursday morning in York city. Jason Plotkin, York Daily Record
Howard Ness, who lives next door to Kaschenbach, said he heard multiple shots fired, and witnessed an EMT performing CPR on who he believed to be the man deputies were looking for.

"This is not a bad neighborhood," he said.

York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said the suspect opened fire as the deputy approached him, and the deputy returned fire. He said the investigation was in its early stages and that police were still collecting evidence to sort out what happened.

"This is a pretty quiet area of the city for this to happen here," Kahley said. "It's another example of the danger our officers face when out on the street doing their jobs."

Keuerleber said, "It's a dangerous job that we do. I'm just glad my guy's going to be OK."

York City Police are handling the investigation into the shooting.

An autopsy for Nickol has been scheduled for Friday morning at Lehigh Valley Hospital.

Staff writer Gordon Rago contributed to this story.

Copyright 2016 The York Dispatch

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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