A police officer and his canine partner were ambushed by a man who opened fire on them four times, killing the officer and wounding the dog, said authorities, adding that the suspected gunman then killed himself.
Ofc. Brad Fox, a seven-year veteran of the Plymouth Twp. Police Dept. in Montgomery County, was gunned down in the line of duty late Thursday afternoon.
It all began around 5:16 p.m. when officers were dispatched to the scene of a three-car accident on East Ridge Pike in the Conshohocken section of Plymouth Township.
About a half-hour later, officers on the scene witnessed an SUV traveling at a high rate of speed, passing stopped vehicles in the opposing lane of traffic, police said.
Fox and fellow officers followed the SUV as it struck another vehicle and kept going, officials said. Fox then found the SUV abandoned on Ernest Station Road and, with his canine partner, chased the driver on foot into an industrial area along the Schuylkill River Trail, officials said.
Officers responding to assist soon found Fox, with a gunshot wound to his head, lying in the grass between the trail and train tracks, officials said.
Fox, who would have turned 35 Friday, was rushed to a nearby hospital, but he later died, officials said.
"We're all in shock," said Chief Joseph Lawrence, Plymouth Twp. Police Dept. "This is the very first time the Plymouth Township Police Department has had to deal with an officer killed in the line of duty."
Officers then scoured the area and found the suspected killer, Andrew Charles Thomas, dead of two self-inflicted gunshot wounds, officials said.
The preliminary investigation, officials said, revealed that Thomas, 44, was hiding on the hill above the train tracks and ambushed Fox by firing at least four shots at the officer and his canine partner, Nick, from a vantage point obscured by tall weeds. Nick suffered a graze wound, but is going to recover.
Thomas had been a fugitive on a forgery charge for seven years before his capture on May 21. He pleaded guilty the next day to the charge, which resulted from him using $140 worth of counterfeit Acme gift certificates in 2005, officials said.
Fox, of New Hanover Twp., Montgomery Co., near Boyertown, was a seven-year veteran of the force and a Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq.
Fox was married with a young child and a second on the way, said Lawrence, who called Fox "a hero."
A fund has been established to collect donations for Fox's family. They can be sent to or dropped off at:
Fox Children's Fund
c/o Continental Bank
661 W. Germantown Pike
Plymouth Meeting PA 19462
The Boyertown Area School District also expressed its condolences to the Fox family. Ofc. Fox's widow, Lynsay, worked for four years as a special education teacher at New Hanover Elementary School before leaving last June, according to Robert Scoboria, an asst. superintendent in the Boyertown district.