OLD FORGE — An armed bank robbery in Wyoming ended with the suspect being fatally shot by police after a pursuit into Old Forge Thursday.
Authorities identified the suspect as John Souder, 40, of Old Forge.
State Police Capt. Christopher Paris said Souder was struck by several rounds fired by municipal officers and state troopers in front of Old Forge Animal Hospital, 904 S. Main St.
Authorities said he was transported to Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton where he died from his injuries.
No law enforcement officers or members of the public were injured, Paris noted.
Near the scene, a man claiming to be a relative said Souder was a veteran of the Army Special Forces. However, that was not confirmed by law enforcement.
Paris said Souder had a firearm when he robbed a branch of M&T Bank in the Midway Shopping Center in Wyoming at about 1:3o p.m.
A description of the suspect’s vehicle, a black Chrysler PT Cruiser, was broadcast to area law enforcement agencies.
As troopers from Wyoming responded to the bank, about a mile from their barracks, Wyoming and West Wyoming borough officers spotted the vehicle in a parking area adjacent to the shopping center.
The suspect fled as police approached, driving toward Pittston and into Duryea before crossing into Old Forge in Lackawanna County — about eight miles from the bank.
Paris said police pursuing the suspect conducted a pit maneuver, causing Souder to come to a stop in the parking lot of the animal hospital.
Paris would not disclose if Souder exited the vehicle holding a firearm or what caused police and troopers to discharge their firearms. He did say a firearm was recovered outside the suspect’s vehicle.
He also confirmed that cash was taken from the bank in a cellophane grocery bag and a cellophane bag of cash was visible inside the suspect’s vehicle.
A woman from Old Forge, who did not want to provide her name, said she was traveling south on South Main Street when she encountered the shootout.
“I was driving into Duryea when I came across a road block and heard, ‘pop, pop, pop,’” the woman said. “I thought it was firecrackers. Then I realized what was happening and another police officer came up behind me with his gun in his hand yelling at me to get down.”
The woman said she mistakenly thought the officer told her to leave, and she turned around as the shooting was taking place.
“I thought he said to get out and I made a U-turn,” the woman said, noting she heard about eight to 10 shots.
Paris said it is too early in the investigation to determine how many rounds were fired.
Law enforcement personnel involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, Paris added.
South Main Street was closed from Lonesome Road to Bridge Street as troopers processed the scene.
Windows were shattered on the Chrysler and bloody bandages were on the pavement next to the vehicle where paramedics treated the suspect. Multiple evidence markers were placed along South Main and the animal hospital’s parking lot.
Several people arrived at the animal hospital to pick up or drop off their pets only to encounter heavy police activity. Police permitted veterinarian Dr. Mohamed Gad and customers to use a side door.
Lackawanna County District Attorney Shane Scanlon said an autopsy will be conducted by Lackawanna County Coroner Tim Rowland. That has been scheduled for Friday, police say.
Scanlon said surveillance video, including video from police cruisers, has been recovered. He asked the public to contact State Police at Dunmore at 570-963-3156 if anyone used a cell phone to record the pursuit and shooting.
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