Suspect arrested in killing of Pa. game officer near Maryland line

  • Christopher Lynn Johnson
Christopher Lynn Johnson (Handout photo )
November 12, 2010|By Nick Madigan, The Baltimore Sun

A 27-year-old man was arrested Friday morning in the killing of a Pennsylvania game officer who had been investigating reports of poaching.

Christopher Lynn Johnson, whose criminal history includes convictions for burglary, fleeing from an officer and endangering children, had been sought by authorities in Pennsylvania and Maryland after Wildlife Conservation Officer David L. Grove, 31, was found dead of gunshot wounds Thursday night on Shrivers Road in Freedom Township, Pa., southwest of Gettysburg and near the Maryland line.

Lt. Myra A. Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania State Police, said troopers from the agency's station in Gettysburg arrested Johnson at 9:40 a.m. in Franklin Township, in Adams County. "There is no information to suggest there are any other individuals outstanding as it relates to this investigation," Taylor's office said in a statement.

A spokesman for Maryland State Police, Gregory M. Shipley, said troopers from a special apprehension team and the Westminster and Frederick barracks had been involved in the search for Johnson.

Authorities quickly zeroed in on Johnson as the suspect in Grove's killing, and said he was on the run in a blue 1999 Chevrolet pickup, might be injured and should be considered armed and dangerous.

A statement on the Pennsylvania Game Commission website said it was the first time a game officer had been slain while on duty in almost a century. The last was Joseph McHugh, in Weatherly, Carbon County, on Nov. 7, 1915.

"We are shocked and saddened by the killing" of Grove, the game commission's executive director, Carl G. Roe, wrote in the statement. "He was a bright, young officer who was dedicated to conserving Pennsylvania's wildlife resources, and promoting our state's rich hunting and trapping heritage."

Roe said he and his colleagues "mourn the loss of one of our own."

The Gettysburg Times reported that Grove suffered a "large gunshot wound to the head" and that a coroner was called to the scene at 11:30 p.m.

In 1997, Grove graduated from Grace Academy in Hagerstown, and he attended Appalachian Bible College in Bradley, W.Va., from 1997 until 1999. He earned a bachelor's degree in wildlife and fisheries science in 2004 from Pennsylvania State University, where he had worked at the college's Deer Research Facility. Grove was commissioned a full-time wildlife conservation officer on March 8, 2008, and assigned to the southern district of Adams County.

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

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