BRUSH VALLEY — A former Indiana County law enforcement officer died during a confrontation with state police when they answered a report of a domestic dispute around midnight at his home in Brush Valley, police said this morning.
Gary Wissinger was pronounced dead at the scene along Route 56 just after 6 a.m. by Indiana County Chief Deputy Coroner Jerry Overman.
Wissinger was a former deputy for the Indiana County Sheriff’s office and a former corrections officer at the Indiana County jail.
Investigators released few details because of what Trooper John Matchik, a public information officer, called the sensitive nature of the incident, a “trooper-involved shooting.”
Overman said Wissinger had more than one injury but it was unclear whether he had been wounded by more than one bullet. Although it appeared that the fatal shot was fired by a police officer, Overman said, that could not be confirmed until an autopsy and ballistics tests are completed.
“Troopers responded to the residence in Brush Valley and when they arrived, they had a suspect inside,” Matchik said. “When he came to the front door, he was armed with a handgun. He appeared to point it in the direction of or at our troopers, and one of our troopers opened fire on the suspect.
“The suspect retreated inside the residence and we believe he had access to quite a few weapons. At that point we treated it as a barricaded gunman situation,” Matchik said.
Troopers summoned members of the Special Emergency Response Team, known as SERT, who eventually entered the house and found the suspect dead, he said.
Matchik said he did not know whether Wissinger fired at police. Matchik also said he did not know how much time passed between troopers’ arrival at the scene and the time Wissinger was found dead in the house.
“That’s a part of the investigation, to find out if any rounds were fired by the suspect. He appeared to brandish a handgun and pointed it at our troopers, which prompted at least one to open fire, I believe.”
Troopers from the Indiana station and the Records & Identification unit at the Troop A headquarters in Greensburg continued to investigate at the scene this morning.
Baker said Wissinger’s body would be taken to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office in Pittsburgh for an autopsy.
According to county personnel records, Wissinger was a part-time corrections officer from January through August 1982, then returned to work at the jail in April 1985. He worked part time until August 1986, then was a full-time corrections officer until January 1989.
Wissinger was hired again in January 1994 as a sheriff’s deputy and was terminated July 28, 2008, according to the county human resources office.
This story edited at 11 p.m. to correct the end date of Wissinger's employment in the sheriff's office.