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Police: Machete-wielding man shot in Allentown

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, @CatherineH_WFMZ, chawley@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 21 2013 11:17:53 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 22 2013 02:38:32 PM CST
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

A bizarre confrontation in Allentown ended with a man dead Thursday.

Officers shot a machete-wielding man who was walking near the West End Cemetery and Chew Street, said Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin, who noted that the shooting appeared to be justified.

Police were alerted to the man roaming the area with a machete in hand just after 11:30 a.m.

"The initial call came in that the individual was walking down the street, walking northbound on 12th Street carrying a machete," explained Asst. Chief Joe Hanna, Allentown Police Dept.

Officers swarmed the streets and alleys looking for the man. Bystanders directed them to Howard and Oak streets.

"There were a bunch of them just running toward the intersection," described Fred Moyer.

The man was carrying a knife close to two feet long, swinging it around within seven to 15 feet of officers, investigators said.

"Making wild motions, mumbling and generally behaving in a combative and aggressive manner," explained Martin.

When the man wouldn't calm down, officials said two Tasers were deployed. One missed, the other one hit the man, but it had no effect, possibly because of his thick clothes, officials said. 

The man then used the machete to cut the wires of the stun gun. That's when one officer started shooting, officials said.

"I heard these bang, bang, bang," shared Wes Schraden. "Then there was like a pause and then bang, bang, bang, again."

"Saw the police down the corner, pretty sure I seen their guns raised," added Moyer. "As I was running back through the yard, the shots just kept going and going."

"He continued to be very combative, bringing the machete over his head and advancing with what's being described as a chopping motion toward the officers," said Martin. "These officers were in peril. They were in jeopardy."

According to authorities, another Taser was fired and two other officers fired multiple shots at the man. Neighbors reported hearing between five and 10 shots fired. Martin said 13 shell casings were found at the scene.

"They were laying on top of him, holding him down," shared Schraden. "He was resisting 'cause there was at least five cops."

"I seen some guy being handcuffed and laying on the ground," described Moyer.
"Even though he was handcuffed at the scene, he was still combative and still thrashing about," added Martin.

The man was taken to a nearby trauma center, where he died around 2 p.m. Two officers were taken to the hospital after they touched the man's blood. Investigators said four officers -- two who fired stun guns and two who discharged handguns -- have been placed on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.

"At this time, this appears to me to have been a totally justifiable response by law enforcement," stated Martin.

The man was described as being Hispanic and in his 30s or 40s. His girlfriend was being questioned by authorities Thursday night

Investigators said Allentown officers encountered the man Wednesday, a half-mile from Thursday's shooting scene. We're told police followed him to his nearby home.

"He was acting what was categorized as strangely," explained Martin. "Appeared to have had some mental health issues. They were concerned about him."

The machete is being processed for fingerprints and other evidence.