Hemlock Township officer involved in gunfire incident

Last updated: June 9, 2023 - 12:13pm

BUCKHORN – A Hemlock Township police sergeant was involved in a gunfire incident in the parking lot of the Home Depot here, and State Police are now investigating.

A witness at the scene said he saw a Nissan SUV hit a vehicle and try to hit a police officer and that he heard two shots fired.

Sgt. Scott Traugh was involved in the incident and was taken to the hospital for evaluation, said State Police Cpl. Steven Krasucki.

Hemlock Township Police Chief Mike VanDine said he turned the scene over to state troopers because of his officer’s involvement. It wasn’t immediately clear who fired shots in the incident.

Krasucki said police are looking for a Nissan with Pennsylvania plates in connection with their investigation.

No one from the public was injured in the gunfire, he said.

As of 9 a.m.. the Home Depot was open for business but over a dozen troopers were seen investigating. Police officers from Hemlock Township and Bloomsburg had also been there but left shortly after troopers arrived.

Four lanes in the parking lot were blocked off where a pickup truck could be seen. Nearby two yellow evidence markers sat next to shell casings.

Jermaine Johnson was working in the garden nursery at the time of the incident. He said he saw a Nissan SUV back into a vehicle owned by his sister, Kim Balazs and her husband Tom, of Berwick, who happened to be in the store at the time shopping.

The rear driver side door of the couple’s car was crumpled in, just feet from where shell casings were marked by police.

Johnson said a female cashier told him a man had stolen tools and she tried to stop him as he fled the store.

He said he heard a uniformed police officer yelling before the SUV driver drove toward the officer.

“He almost hit the cop,” Johnson said.

He said he then heard two gunshots. “I ducked inside,” Johnson said.

His blue Honda sedan and his sister’s were cordoned off by police tape. The Balazs couple said they were waiting for their son to come pick them up since their damaged Chevy SUV was part of the crime scene.

Johnson added that he never thought he would witness something like this here.

He also said he saw a Hemlock Township police SUV on scene but said he did not get a good look at the officer himself.

Johnson said State Police confirmed to him the man is suspected to have stolen tools from the Home Depot and fled.

M.J. Mahon covers Bloomsburg and can be reached at 570-387-1234, Ext. 1321 and mj.mahon@pressenterprise.net

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