Task Force Officers’ Actions Deemed Justified by Lancaster DA Following Fatal Shooting

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LANCASTER, PA — Amidst the increasing scrutiny and escalating tension surrounding law enforcement actions, an investigation conducted by the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office lends some clarity to a recent violent incident involving local and federal authorities. The District Attorney, Heather Adams announced the conclusion of the review on Friday, pronouncing that two officers acted lawfully in their use of deadly force during a December encounter in Mount Joy Township.

This tense standoff marked the culminating scene in the manhunt for 38-year-old Shane Kelec, a suspect sought on charges of rape, aggravated assault, and other related offenses. He was tracked by the United States Marshals’ Eastern District Violent Crimes Fugitive Task Force, whose exhaustive investigative work led them to the tragic scene of the confrontation on December 28, 2023.

As the story unfolds, law enforcement officers tracked Kelec to the vicinity of the 1500 block of S. Market Street in Elizabethtown. Their search was guided by surveillance footage and information that suggested his recent presence in the area at a local Dollar General Store. The ensuing encounter took place in the shadow of a vacant Taco Bell, where the officers located Kelec partially concealed by a blanket behind a large trash receptacle storage area.

According to the report, an escalating series of commands were issued by the officers in an attempt to peacefully apprehend the suspect. Kelec, rather than complying, produced a firearm, which prompted the response by the officers who perceived the imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death.

Despite the immediate intervention by the law enforcement officers, and multiple rounds of fire aimed at neutralizing the threat, Kelec was pronounced dead at the scene. A loaded firearm and additional ammunition were found in his possession, further affirming the danger he posed to the officers. Strikingly, amidst Kelec’s belongings, officers also discovered a suicide note; a chilling testament to the tragic turn of events.

The incident was ultimately deemed justifiable under Pennsylvania law by District Attorney Adams, citing the officers’ reasonable belief that they were in serious danger. These determinations were informed by statements from the officers involved, civilians who heard the shooting, photographs of the scene, and footage recorded after the incident.

It should be noted, however, that the events leading up to the fatal shooting were not captured on body-worn camera or any available surveillance equipment. This lack of visual evidence sparks a noteworthy discussion about the importance of such devices in providing transparent and reliable accounts of law enforcement actions.

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