Police investigating Johnstown suspect's death following 3-county chase

Nov. 4—BLAIRSVILLE — Pennsylvania State Police Internal Affairs and the Westmoreland County District Attorney are investigating events that led troopers to fatally shoot a Johnstown man Thursday after a high-speed chase across three counties.

"We always do an investigation to make sure force was appropriate in these unfortunate circumstances," State Police Troop A spokesman Trooper Steve Limani said Friday.

Pennsylvania State Police Troop A covers Cambria, Indiana and Westmoreland counties.

The pursuit of Krysten Pretlor, 35, began Thursday as he was wanted on felony charges regarding a domestic violence incident under investigation by the Richland Township Police Department.

Pretlor evaded police by driving a white BMW at a speed in excess of 100 mph from Cambria County, through Indiana, and ending in Westmoreland County, where was stopped by state police and shot Thursday afternoon.

State police subsequently issued a press release saying an investigation is ongoing.

"In accordance with Pennsylvania State Police policy, the involved trooper(s) will be placed on administrative duties while the incident is under investigation," the press release said.

Gathering evidence

The investigation could take a few months, Limani said.

For example, tests to determine whether Pretlor had gun residue on his hands that would be evidence of a shoot-out with police could be time-consuming, Limani said.

Police are also downloading any type of video evidence submitted to them by the public.

"There has to be 100 people who drove by and someone had to have a phone out, so if someone saw a muzzle flash coming from the vehicle, that video can speak for itself," he said.

Pretlor himself published an expletive-filled video on Snapchat during the chase as he was driving with police behind him, sirens blaring.

"You better fall back," he says in the video. "You better fall back.

"I don't give a (expletive). You gonna have to take me out."

Limani said he was aware of that video — which The Tribune-Democrat obtained from KDKA-TV. And edited version appears with this story

'Known to be violent'

Pretlor initially fled the scene of the alleged Richland Township domestic violence incident Thursday in a white BMW before police arrived to investigate.

At 1:21 p.m., Richland Township Police sent the Johnstown Police Department a "stop and hold request," in reference to Pretlor's vehicle, Johnstown Police Chief Richard M. Pritchard said in a press release issued Friday.

The vehicle's registration was linked to an address in the 300 block of Arthur Street in Dale Borough. Johnstown police said they found the vehicle parked and unoccupied near the address.

"Pretlor was known to be violent by JPD officers, was presumed to be armed and dangerous," Pritchard said in his press release. "We determined that a perimeter would be established in an effort to safely contain him. As officers were arriving to assist, Pretlor exited the residence and began walking toward the BMW with his right hand resting at his waist band. Officer Sharf and I gave verbal commands while keeping Pretlor at gunpoint, but he ignored those commands and continued toward the car.

"We did not fire our weapons because the firearm was not clearly visible at that time, and Pretlor did not attempt to engage us. We were stationed approximately a half block away from Pretlor's BMW and he was able to get into it and start driving away before we could get our hands on him."

Pretlor fled toward Solomon Homes and then entered Route 56 eastbound with multiple JPD units and units from other Johnstown-area departments in pursuit.

The chase that ensued reached speeds in excess of 100 mph, Pritchard said in his press release.

"We believed that Pretlor presented an ongoing threat to his victim and continued to pursue in an effort to safely take him into custody," he said.

The pursuit continued into Richland Township, Geistown and surrounding areas, police said. At one point, Pretlor drove through a yard before returning to the City of Johnstown via Route 56 west and drove on through the city.

"Despite our best efforts to safely end the pursuit, Pretlor managed to evade capture and continued outbound on Route 403," Pritchard said.

Johnstown police units requested assistance from Pennsylvania State Police in Indiana and continued to pursue until reaching Route 22, where Pretlor entered the highway heading west toward Pittsburgh.

"At that point, the pursuit was discontinued by JPD units due to limitations of our communications systems," Pritchard said.

Pennsylvania State Police from Westmoreland county reported that they assumed the lead in the pursuit, as Pretlor continued west through Indiana County and into Westmoreland County.

As the suspect was attempting to turn his vehicle around at the intersection of Route 22 and Rushwood Road in Derry Township, a pursuing trooper initiated a "Precision Immobilization Technique" maneuver on the fleeing vehicle in an effort to safely end the pursuit, Troop A Pennsylvania State Police said in a press release.

The suspect's vehicle came to rest against a concrete dividing barrier which separates the eastbound and westbound lanes of Route 22 at the intersection Rushwood Road and Stone Jug Road.

"The officers then attempted to apprehend the suspect who was in possession of a firearm," the state police said in the press release from Thursday. "During their encounter with the suspect, officer(s) discharged their weapons and the suspect succumbed to his injuries at the scene."