Lancaster County DA: Officer who fired shot at suspect during December 2020 standoff was justified

Suspect Craig Bush suffered a non-fatal wound from the officer’s shot and immediately committed suicide with the pistol he was holding, DA Heather Adams said.

LANCASTER COUNTY, PA. – Note: The video above is from December 2020.

Lancaster County District Attorney Heather L. Adams announced Thursday that the Manheim Township Police officer who shot a man during a police operation on December 8, 2020, was authorized to use lethal force.

The officer’s shot left a non-fatal wound on the suspect, who shot and killed himself, according to the Pennsylvania State Police investigating the incident.

Investigators found that Craig Kevin Bush had fired a shot from the house when police tried to contact inmates during the hour-long break.

Later, when the police entered the bedroom to arrest him, Bush threatened the officers and the female victim by raising a gun, Adams’ office found. In response, the officer fired at Bush to neutralize the Bush threat, Adams said.

The officer’s shot grazed Bush’s right side and was a non-fatal wound, according to Adams’ office. Bush simultaneously pointed his gun at himself, fired a single shot and died of that self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Adams said.

Adams’ office did not name the officer who dropped his gun and stated that he is not charged with any crime.

According to investigators, the incident began at 8:08 pm when a man called 911 on behalf of his sister and reported that his sister’s boyfriend had “gone mad”.

Police responded to the house on Knollwood Drive and knocked on the door, investigators say. They reportedly heard screams from inside the house and then saw a woman in the second-floor window warning police that “he has a gun” before disappearing from view.

Immediately afterwards, according to investigators, the police heard a shot and saw a flash of a muzzle flash from the house. The shot came through a window and went in the direction of the Manheim police officers, who were outside the house.

Police later learned that the shot came after Bush threatened to kill himself. At the time, he said he would not go to jail and, according to investigators, pointed the gun at the victim. A fight ensued and the victim pushed the gun away from her, which, according to investigators, resulted in the shot being fired.

Police made multiple attempts to determine if anyone in the house was injured, but their verbal calls if not answered, investigators say.

Local officials withdrew and investigators said they asked the Lancaster County Special Emergency Response Team for help.

Members of the SERT team tried to resolve the situation peacefully, and a crisis team tried several times to contact residents of the residence by phone and social media to safely remove residents from the house, according to investigators.

During the stalemate, the woman reappeared at the window, where officers heard her shouting, according to investigators, that Bush “killed” himself or “will kill” himself.

The police asked her to leave the house, but told them that investigators said she could not.

After numerous and still unsuccessful attempts to contact the home’s residents, the SERT team entered the residence to ensure the woman was not injured in the home, investigators said. A team of officers approached a bedroom on the second floor and forced entry.

The first officer who entered the room watched Bush on his knees, behind a bed, with his back to him and with his right hand covered out of the window, investigators said. The officer gave orders for Bush to show his hands, and Bush turned to the officer and raised a semi-automatic pistol, investigators say.

A second officer also entered the bedroom after the first officer and watched Bush on his knees in front of the window and looked at him, the investigators say. The second officer watched the gun in Bush’s hand and saw him start raising the gun.

At that point, the second officer fired one round at Bush’s body mass, causing a non-fatal wound when Bush raised the gun fully to his head and discharged the gun, causing a fatal self-inflicted wound, investigators found.

Investigators from the County SERT team were called, but no life-saving measures were taken as Bush was found dead, according to investigators.

“I have come to the conclusion that the officer was fully entitled to drain his gun, resulting in a non-fatal and superficial wound on the suspect,” said Adams in a press release announcing their determination. “The suspect clearly put the SERT members and the victim in the apartment at risk of death or serious injury, and created a situation in which the officer was authorized to use lethal force in self-defense and defense of others.”

The Lancaster County coroner office later determined that Bush’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and the nature of the death was suicide.

The firing officer’s bullet left Bush with a grazing wound on his right upper body, the coroner said.

The woman was then found hidden in the closet in the bedroom and, according to the investigators, safely led out of the room by the police.

The shooting came towards the end of a five and a half hour altercation with Bush, who refused to show up or communicate with police or allow the woman to leave the residence, Adams said.

The Pennsylvania State Police are investigating the shooting incident and Assistant District Attorney Mark Fetterman helped review the case.

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