LOWER BURRELL (KDKA) — The investigation continues today after a veteran police officer was shot and killed Wednesday evening outside of a restaurant in Lower Burrell.
The fallen police officer has been identified as Officer Derek Kotecki, a K-9 handler with the Lower Burrell Police Department in Westmoreland County.
The shooting happened around 7 p.m. Wednesday outside of the Dairy Queen on Greensburg Road. This morning, a forensic photographer returned to the scene to take pictures of an ice cream stand turned scene of a tragedy.
Authorities say police had been searching for the suspected gunman, identified as Charles Post, after a shooting incident earlier this month outside of the Clarion Hotel in New Kensington.
He was wanted on charges of attempted homicide and aggravated assault after officials say he alleged fired shots at his former boss there.
It is reported that Post may have been at the Dairy Queen to surrender, according to his brother; however, that has not been confirmed by investigators.
Officials say they tracked Post to the restaurant.
“This evening, they received information that he would be here at the Dairy Queen in Lower Burrell, and New Kensington as well as Lower Burrell police officers proceeded there,” said John Peck, the Westmoreland County District Attorney on Wednesday night. “As they approached this white jeep that’s parked in the parking lot of the Dairy Queen, he fired at Officer Kotecki and struck him.”
Authorities say Post tried to get away, but a fence at the back of the restaurant kept him from fleeing. He died of a gunshot wound.
“Mr. Post attempted to flee the area, you’ll notice there’s a fence behind the Dairy Queen, that he was not able to surmount. As he came back near the parking lot area, officers were approaching him, advancing on him,” said Peck. “Again, at least one officer fired shots. It’s believed that Mr. Post fired a shot as well.”
It has not yet been determined if Post died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound or from a round from one of the other officers returning fire.
“Apparently, Mr. Post knew officers knew officers in the Lower Burrell Police Department, had been communicating with them, and had in fact communicated a threat directly to the officers about their attempts to pursue him,” Peck added.
Both were pronounced dead at the scene. Autopsies for both are planned for today.
Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.
Westmoreland County District Attorney’s Office
Photo Gallery: Lower Burrell Officer Killed In Shooting, Suspected Gunman Dead
Officer Killed In Lower Burrell Shooting, Suspected Gunman Dead