Don't point guns at cops


March 24, 2005, 07:48 AM
This happened yesterday in my home town.

"Andre Tate said it sounded like someone pounding on a window.

The 15-year-old Indiana Area Senior High School sophomore was on his way back to his classroom when he saw Joseph William Stank and an Indiana Borough police officer facing each other in the school's driveway.

Stank pulled out what appeared to be a semiautomatic handgun and pointed it at the policeman, who ordered Stank to drop the gun and lay it down on the ground, he said. The officer, cradling a 12-gauge shotgun to his shoulder, fired a shot, dropping the 51-year-old man to the pavement.

Stank dropped his weapon. At the same time, the police officer appeared to drop his radio, Tate said.

Tate watched Stank reach for his gun again. The officer fired a second round. "

"Stank later died at Indiana Hospital of gunshot wounds to the chest and neck, according to Indiana County Chief Deputy Coroner Michael Baker. He said an autopsy and toxicology tests will be done as part of the investigation."

"Shields said Stank had been treated for mental illness and had a criminal record, although he had no details last night."

"State police Lt. Brad Shields said Stank was armed with a pellet gun at the time of the shooting. Later, at a news conference, Shields displayed the silver weapon, which resembles a 9 mm or .40-caliber pistol."

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March 24, 2005, 08:00 AM
Darwin at work

March 24, 2005, 08:09 AM
Sounds like "suicide by cop." It's a shame that the oficer has to live with it although he did the right thing. If you don't think it will bother you, you haven't been there.

I remember when we had hospitals in Pa. that these people would be committed to. They were given a low stimulus environment (dull and dreary to the critics) and allowed to live safe from themselves and the predators on the streets that want their drugs and food stamps. Now we dope them up to make them appear normal and send them out on the streets to be victims. Doped up feels just as bad to them as it would to you so they stop taking their meds and this happens.

March 24, 2005, 08:29 AM
Amen to that,

Ten years out, and I still have nightmares sometimes.

March 24, 2005, 09:29 AM
GWG (ie SWMBO) grew up in Indiana and I grew up about 7 miles out. I'm really surprised no one from her family has said anything about this since she still has a sister at Indiana Senior High. I also have a friend I went to school with who is on the borough police force. I'll have to give him a call and see how things are going. Here's a link to the local paper article on it. They also have some pictures of it.

You know after reading the local article about the length of time the involved officer was with the force it could have been my friend. :(

March 24, 2005, 09:41 AM
It's weird to see something like that happen at the school I went to. My sister should have been there yesterday but I haven't been able to talk to her yet. I'll form an opinion once I have all the details.

March 24, 2005, 10:41 AM
A few years ago I responded to a vehicle theft call in progress. I was very close. I turned north on the street and there was the vehicle coming at me in the south bound lane. The vehicle stopped and the driver took off on foot. Naturally I gave chase. The suspect ran into a back yard and I lost sight of him. I was a rookie so instead of slowing down and looking I went hell-for-leather around the corner of the house.

The suspect was standing in the middle of the yard, actually he was jumping around, and appeared to be reaching into the crotch area of his pants. All I could think of was "BELLY GUN". My Sig was out of it's holster in a flash. Nobody got shot. The suspect was a Meth user and was seriously "Tweaking". He wasn't armed. The owner of the vehicle was his girlfriend and she decided that she didn't want to press charges - she was just mad at him. He went to jail for an outstanding warrant though.

I came that close to shooting an unarmed drugged out idiot who had been having a fight with his drugged out idiotic girlfriend. If I had shot him I guarantee I would have been sued. It's a crazy job.

March 24, 2005, 10:53 AM
a quote: "It was unclear why the officer used his standard-issue shotgun instead of his .40-caliber sidearm, said Indiana Borough police Chief William Sutton."

Maybe because he wanted to maximize the chances he would get to go home to his family at the end of the shift? You would think a police chief would be able to figure it out better than that.


Snake Eyes
March 24, 2005, 10:56 AM
I'll form an opinion once I have all the details
Wow. Wow! Wow!!

God Lord Almighty, if we could get half the people in this country to live by those simple words, why we might have a chance at governing ourselves in a reasonable and prudent manner.

I bow to you.


March 24, 2005, 12:15 PM
I got ahold of my mom on the phone and she said that my sister had left school early yesterday to walk to her dentist appointment. She was excused shortly before 2 so she would have walked right past where the shooting took place minutes after she had left.

Standing Wolf
March 24, 2005, 06:50 PM
He said an autopsy and toxicology tests will be done as part of the investigation.

Major surprises due? No bets.

March 24, 2005, 10:12 PM
"It was unclear why the officer used his standard-issue shotgun instead of his .40-caliber sidearm, said Indiana Borough police Chief William Sutton."

What's unclear is this Police Chief's motive for making a public statement such as this! He is obviously engaged in CYA, but in the process has publicly cast doubt on the officer's actions thus giving the Fuzzy Thinking Liberal Press something to Kackle about. :what:


March 24, 2005, 11:08 PM
Don't point guns at cops

Hello Mr. Master of the Obvious. :neener: :D

Jeff White
March 24, 2005, 11:25 PM
It was unclear why the officer used his standard-issue shotgun instead of his .40-caliber sidearm, said Indiana Borough police Chief William Sutton

So would he be less dead if the officer had used his .40 caliber handgun? I'm sorry but when I respond to a man with a gun call, I get out of the car with my 6920 in hand. The .45 caliber sidearm becomes my secondary weapon on that type of a call. Sheesh..I think city managers and mayors are scared of real cops and tend to hire/promote admin weenies...:rolleyes:

MikeIsaj is right. Until the mid 80s people like that were institutionalized. Now they are our homeless problem and 90% of the EDPs we deal with. I don't understand how letting them wander the streets is better for them.


Bear Gulch
March 24, 2005, 11:39 PM
Migoi hit it on the head!

March 25, 2005, 12:16 AM
Don't point guns at cops

Hello Mr. Master of the Obvious.

hehehheheh. burst out laughing at the title of this thread, thanks for the laugh!

March 25, 2005, 01:26 AM
I was told by a sheriff's deputy that the only reason he didnt carry his shotgun all the time was becuase they didnt make a holster for it.

March 25, 2005, 06:28 AM
Post-Gazette dubs dead man "shooting victim."

"The man killed by police Wednesday after he pointed an air pistol at an officer had just completed a three-week stay in a local hospital for treatment of schizophrenia."


"For at least the last three years, Stank had lived in an apartment in a home on North Fifth Street in Indiana. On the front door of his apartment, he had a sticker showing he was a 2005 supporter of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association."


Beren's comments:

Evidently, Stank took out his pistol and fiddled with it after leaving the tire shop. Someone driving past called 911 and reported "a man with a gun."

Lesson #1: Don't expose your CCW. Someone WILL call if they see it. Guns scare sheeple.

Lesson #2: Do what the nice officer orders.

Lesson #3: Buckshot is a good stopper, but not "instant."

March 25, 2005, 03:10 PM
Latest update:

Indiana Borough police Detective Scott Schuller has been identified as the Indiana policeman who shot Joseph Stank in a deadly confrontation outside Indiana Area Senior High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Indiana Police Chief William Sutton this morning confirmed it was Schuller who tried to disarm Stank, and added that Schuller - an 11-year veteran of the Indiana police department - is "doing well" following the violent encounter.

In another development, an autopsy performed Thursday morning at Wecht's Pathology Associates in Pittsburgh concluded that Stank bled to death from his shotgun wounds.

Sutton said Schuller will remain on restricted duty inside the police station until Indiana County District Attorney Bob Bell rules whether the shooting was justifiable, and until Sutton is satisfied that the detective is ready for street duty again.

Schuller was one of several officers who responded to a 911 call just after 2 p.m. Wednesday reporting that a man carrying what appeared to be a handgun was walking near the high school.

Police said an officer - now known to be Schuller - shot Stank twice when Stank ignored repeated orders to drop his gun.

The weapon found by Stank's body was an air-powered pellet pistol.

Schuller joined the Indiana police force in 1994. In July 1999 he shared "Officer of the Month" honors with another Indiana policeman.

District Attorney Bell said Thursday that it may be early next week before he issues a ruling on whether the shooting was justified.

Sutton and Indiana County Chief Deputy Coroner Michael Baker both said the shooting appeared justifiable.

"The Pennsylvania State Police are completing an investigation," Bell said. "They will provide a report to me and I'll make a determination as to justifiable homicide. ... They'll look at everything they can" and try to determine how and why the shooting occurred.

But some of the "why," Bell said, will probably be known only to Stank.

Baker said Thursday that Stank died as a result of severe blood loss caused by multiple shotgun wounds to the torso. He said Stank sustained 23 wounds on his body, some of which were caused when projectiles entered his body and then exited on the other side.

"In all, eight projectiles were recovered from the body," Baker said.

"Others passed clear through. Both lungs were hit but the heart was not."

Stank, 51, who resided about a block away from the school at 360 N. Fifth St., was shot twice.

The initial police report said Stank was first shot after failing to put down his handgun, and was shot the second time after reaching for the gun that he had dropped on the sidewalk.

School officials said Stank had not shown a gun in the high school office, where he had asked for a job application and was directed by the secretaries to the school district's administration building.

"After being struck by the first shot, it was probable that Stank was still able to fire a weapon at the officer," Baker said. "Stank was in cardiac arrest when paramedics found him and he never regained consciousness or other signs of life."

Baker said Stank was hit on the left chest and arm and then in the right chest and neck. He said the ammunition used in the shooting was known as "double-aught" buck-shot, which is the rough equivalent of nine .32-caliber bullets in each round.

Asked how close the officer was to Stank when he fired the shotgun, Baker said he did not know but that state police were checking out a video of the scene of the shooting that could help determine that.

Baker said Stank had a history of drug and alcohol abuse and the autopsy also revealed evidence of an alcohol-related disease. He declined to be more specific. Baker also said Stank had been a patient in the psychiatric unit at Armstrong County Memorial Hospital in Kittanning during the last month and had been released less than a week ago.

"There are no winners when something like this happens," Baker said. "We can all be grateful no kids were hurt."

I still haven't formed my opinion on whether it was justified, but this new information gave me something to think about. I don't know yet if the officer arrived in a police car or what, but as you can see in the pictures, he was in plain clothes. The article didn't say if Mr. Stank had a carry permit. It's possible that Mr. Stank did not know or believe that the detective was an officer. Either way though, it would have been illegal for Mr. Stank to carry on school property and to open carry as it seemed he had done. Who knows.
They have the scene on surveilance cameras so hopefully that will shed some light.

Another thing about the story that bothers me, is that the original report said that the "unidentified officer" had been on the force for 5 years and in the pictures, the face of a balding man is blacked out. The detective who later identified as the shooter was in most all of the pictures and had been on the force for 11 years. Maybe they didn't get the story right in the beginning but its bothering me.

March 26, 2005, 10:21 AM
I don't know yet if the officer arrived in a police car or what, but as you can see in the pictures, he was in plain clothes. The article didn't say if Mr. Stank had a carry permit. It's possible that Mr. Stank did not know or believe that the detective was an officer.

That the detective was in plain clothes does put a different spin on matters.

Picture it like this:

You've just walked out of a tire shop where you were asking for any kind of menial work to earn a few dollars. Your holster just slipped and your pants are about to fall down, so you slide your CCW pistol out just long enough to adjust your belt. While walking past the highschool on your way home, you stop in to ask for an application.

On your way out of the school, you see a man in plain clothes holding a shotgun pointed in your direction from a distance of approximately 50 meters.
You instantly recall all the recent school shootings. He's shouting something, but all you can make out is he seems agitated and he's taking aim at you.

How would you react? (Let's assume your "CCW" isn't a pellet pistol.).

Me, I think I'd run the other way. I might take some pellets, but less than if I stood my ground and tried to draw on the aggressor.


FWIW, my ex knew of the man and had spoken with him on occasion. Her employer paid him a few bucks to sweep sidewalks, things like that. He was allegedly "very concerned about aliens." (Not Mexicans, either.)

March 26, 2005, 12:41 PM
Living in a free society has its risks. Sometimes decisions have to be made in an instant. The danger inherent in freedom provides the leaven that gives rise to the sweetness of that freedom.

This incident would have never happened if only the police had firearms. But, would you want to live in a society like that? I wouldn't.

March 26, 2005, 02:36 PM
Wouldn't the fact that he was beong treated for mental illness and had a criminal record pretty much point to him not having a CCW? Also, the fact that he was carrying around a pellet gun, that partly implies to me that perhaps he wasn't eligible to buy a real gun?

But yeah, pointing a gun at someone else who has a gun is never going to turn out good for either.

March 26, 2005, 03:38 PM
From what is available for reading on this case, it sounds like the officer did what he was trained to do. A man pointed a gun at him, possibly fired on him, and the officer responded with the force he deemed necessary.

Though I might wish that such things would not happen, they are a part of the life that we live.

I wish the best to the officer in his recovery from being faced with fatally shooting someone.

March 26, 2005, 07:12 PM
"don't point guns at cops"


50 Freak
March 26, 2005, 07:39 PM
I hope the best to the deceased's family and may he rest in peace.

I hope the best to the LEO. And that this won't effect him negitively psychologically.

But this is as the facts stands right now. A good shoot.

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