Police shoot, kill assault suspect at mall www.privateofficer.com
Police responding to an assault at an area mall shot and killed the suspect Friday night.
According to police, Thomas Lovett attacked a girl at the Oxford Valley Mall and fled, police said. Later, armed with a brick, he charged at a police officer and was shot.
The 21-year-old Middletown man allegedly tried to gouge the eyes out of a 17-year-old girl in the Oxford Valley Mall parking lot Friday night moments before police shot and killed him, according to authorities.
Lovett of Fotheringham Court was pronounced dead at St. Mary Medical Center in Middletown on Friday night after a Middletown officer shot him three times after a second confrontation in a wooded area near the mall parking lot. The girl was treated for head injuries at Frankford Hospitals’ Bucks campus in Falls and discharged. The officer, whose name has not yet been released, has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.
The incident remains under investigation.
Lovett’s family declined to comment Saturday night. The teenager’s name has also not been released.
Investigators said that the tragic series of incidents started about 7:40 p.m. outside the food court of the mall. Witnesses told police that Lovett put the girl into a choke hold, dragged her to the ground and repeatedly slammed her head against the concrete. Then, according to First Assistant District Attorney David Zellis, the man tried to gouge the teen’s eyes out with his hands.
At that point mall security guards tried to intervene but Lovett began running away across the parking lot, according to authorities. A Middletown police officer joined the chase as the 21-year-old ran across Middletown Boulevard, which circles the mall grounds. Investigators said Lovett ran into a wooded area off the mall property about 100 yards from the movie theater complex where there was a second confrontation that led to the shooting. Police said Lovett lifted a brick and came after the officer who fired while backing away.
It remains unclear if Lovett and the juvenile had any interaction or relationship prior to the incident. According to court records, Lovett pleaded guilty to assault in 2006 and was sentenced to probation.
A section of Middletown Boulevard and a portion of the mall parking lot were closed as Middletown and Bucks County detectives searched the area late Friday night. Several witnesses were taken to police headquarters but declined to comment as they left the facility. Zellis said an autopsy was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, though results were not available at press time.
The mall remained open until its normal closing time after the incidents. Mall marketing manager Patricia Gillett would only confirm police were investigating an incident near mall property. Several patrons said they thought there was an accident and had been surprised to learn there had been a shooting.
The shooting is the third by a police officer in Bucks County this year. A police involved shooting two weeks ago in Bristol remains under investigation. In that incident, on April 9, a borough officer shot and killed a 69-year-old man police said was swinging a chef’s knife as they tried to remove him from his car following a minor hit-and-run accident. The District Attorney’s Office ruled a Bristol Township officer was justified when she fatally shot a man wielding a shard of glass as he charged at her, a second officer and a probation officer as they were trapped inside his barricaded apartment in late February.
Last year authorities ruled a Middletown police sergeant was justified when he shot and killed a township woman as she fired at officers after threatening to kill herself.
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