Poacher Charged with Murdering PA Conservation Officer

A convicted felon illegally hunting deer has been charged with murder in the shooting death a Pennsylvania conservation officer last week.

From this story in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette:
_It's a dangerous job. Along with checking hunting licenses, responding to nuisance deer complaints and disposing of road kill, wildlife conservation officers with the Pennsylvania Game Commission serve arrest warrants, confront armed trespassers and disarm wildlife poachers, sometimes while alone at night on remote country roads. That's what Wildlife Conservation Officer David L. Grove was doing about 10:30 p.m. Thursday in a rural part of southcentral Pennsylvania when he was shot and killed by a suspected poacher. He was the first Game Commission official killed in the line of duty in 95 years. Mr. Grove, 31, of Fairfield, Adams County, was responding to reports of gunfire and suspected wildlife poaching on Shrivers Road in Freedom Township, near Gettysburg, according to the Pennsylvania State Police and The Associated Press. Mr. Grove pulled over a pickup truck with two people inside. Gunfire was exchanged, and the passenger fled the vehicle. Mr. Grove was shot four times and mortally wounded. Backup arrived two minutes after the shooting, and Mr. Grove died 45 minutes later.

The suspect, identified by police as Christopher Lynn Johnson, 27, of Gettysburg, was arrested Friday morning and in the afternoon he was in police custody at York Hospital, awaiting arraignment. He faces charges including murder and fleeing apprehension as well as weapons and game offenses. Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner said he would likely seek the death penalty. New laws have dramatically increased penalties for wildlife poaching in Pennsylvania, but Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser said it was "unlikely" they contributed to Mr. Grove's killing. "[Mr. Johnson] was a convicted felon already illegally in possession of a firearm. New game law penalties were the least of his concerns," he said. Mr. Johnson's criminal record dates to 2002, when he pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary and criminal conspiracy. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of children and fleeing or attempting to elude an officer._