Attempted homicide press conference

Announcing charges against an SCI-Pine Grove inmate who allegedly tried to escape state police custody and fired two shots from a trooper’s pistol in the process, are, from left, Lt. Lisa Lobe, commander of the crime section of State Police Troop A in Greensburg; Capt, Jeff Fisher, Greensburg-based Troop A commander; Indiana station commander Lt. Joseph Loughran; Indiana state police spokesman Trooper Cliff Greenfield; and Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty.

A state police spokesman said Simere Maurice Alford, 20, of Philadelphia, managed to fire two shots from one trooper’s pistol before an unmarked Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor sedan carrying Alford and the two troopers crashed into a guard rail on Fyock Road, 500 feet south of Route 286 and 300 feet north of SCI-Pine Grove.

Trooper Cliff Greenfield, spokesman for Pennsylvania State Police in Indiana, said Alford, also known as Simere A. Ord, will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday at the prison on 22 counts, two of attempted homicide, 17 other felonies and three misdemeanors, before Clymer Magisterial District Judge Christopher S. Welch.

“Our office is going to vigorously prosecute this individual,” Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said at a press conference Tuesday at the Indiana state police barracks. The county’s chief prosecutor said Alford could be sentenced to “a maximum of 20 years” for each first-degree felony, while the attempted homicide of the two state troopers “could carry as much as 40 years” apiece.

Alford already was serving 13 to 40 years at Pine Grove after a negotiated guilty plea to third-degree murder in a 2017 case out of Philadelphia. He was in restraints as he was being returned to the prison after a June 24 preliminary hearing before Welch at his courtroom in Clymer.

“Mr. Alford was secured via leg restraints, handcuffs and a leather transport belt,” Greenfield said. “Mr. Alford’s hands were handcuffed in front of him, with a handcuff secured to the transport belt. The transport belt was buckled behind Mr. Alford’s back.”

“At some point during his transport, Mr. Alford was able to manipulate the belt by unbuckling the strap,” Greenfield said.

It allowed Alford to free his hands and unbuckle his seat belt. At 12:24 p.m., a struggle began that would last only “15 to 20 seconds,” Greenfield said.

“Mr. Alford lunged forward between the two front seats and obtained possession of the male trooper’s personally owned, department-authorized Glock .45-caliber pistol,” the state police spokesman recounted. “Mr. Alford fired a single round in the direction of the male trooper, with the round nearly striking the right side of the trooper’s head.”

Instead, the round exited the patrol vehicle through the front windshield.

“While the vehicle was still in motion, the male trooper removed his hands from the steering wheel and reached back between the seats,” Greenfield said. “This trooper then grabbed the slide of the firearm as Mr. Alford fired a second round. This round was determined to have struck Mr. Alford’s left leg and foot before traveling into the floorboard.”

After that second shot, Greenfield said, the firearm jammed.

“This jam was likely due to the trooper’s grip of the firearm over the slide, which is believed to have prevented the spent casing from ejecting and prohibited the firearm from cycling another round into the chamber,” Greenfield said. “The patrol vehicle then crashed into the guard rail on Fyock Road.”

That triggered the air bags, disabling the car. Greenfield said the female trooper suffered a broken arm in that crash.

“Neither trooper fired a shot,” Greenfield stressed. He said all three individuals were treated for “various injuries.”

There was no partition between the front and rear seats.

Greenfield found it hard at times to control his emotions, as he recapped the events of June 24.

“I worked with these troopers for a long time,” Greenfield said. “I have a lot of respect for them.”

Greenfield said the incident prompted an “all hands on deck” response.

“Every trooper in Indiana County that was available to respond that day did respond and acted professionally,” he said.

State police chose not to identify the two troopers. They said the male trooper suffered minor injuries and since has returned to full-duty status, while the female trooper remains on limited-duty status.

“This highlights the danger our members can face and do face on a daily basis,” said Capt. Jeff Fisher, commander of Greensburg-based State Police Troop A, which includes the Indiana station.

In addition to two counts of criminal attempt-murder of a law enforcement officer of the first degree, Alford is charged with two counts of aggravated assault, one count of robbery and one count of criminal attempt to rob a motor vehicle, two counts of assault of a law enforcement officer, one count of illegal possession of a firearm, and counts of assault, aggravated harassment, discharging a firearm into an occupied structure and recklessly endangering the two troopers.

Greenfield was joined at the press conference by Dougherty and Fisher as well as Indiana State Police Commander Lt. Joseph Loughran and Greensburg-based Troop A Crime Section Commander Lt. Lisa Lobe.