WILKES-BARRE ‚?? A city police officer was shot and a fugitive wanted for an attempted homicide in Philadelphia was killed in a gunfight that erupted when the officer attempted to enter a Sherman Hills high-rise apartment Friday morning.
Sgt. Matthew Stash, 43, an 18-year police veteran, continued to return fire at the gunman, Robert Montgomery, 29, despite suffering a gunshot wound to his leg.
Montgomery was killed in the shooting when city police and U.S. Deputy Marshals retaliated with their weapons.
Stash, commander of the police department‚??s specialized VIPER unit, was with five other law enforcement officers, including the U.S. Marshals, searching for Montgomery in order to serve a warrant for his arrest at about 8 a.m.
‚??Sgt. Stash was shot in the leg while diving into an adjoining room to avoid the gunfire,‚?Ě Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said. ‚??The rounds pierced walls and doors.‚?Ě
Stash was carried out of the high-rise by other officers and rushed to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township. He underwent surgery Friday afternoon and is expected to make a full recovery, Police Chief Gerard Dessoye said.
Authorities learned Montgomery was possibly staying with his father, Robert J. Montgomery, 61, in a fifth floor apartment at the high-rise.
The elder Montgomery partially opened the door and stalled when asked if his son was inside.
Stash, standing in the hallway, spotted the younger Montgomery lying on a ‚??makeshift bed in the living room and under a blanket,‚?Ě Salavantis said.
Stash pulled the elder Montgomery from the doorway and ordered the younger Montgomery to show his hands. The younger Montgomery ‚??immediately opened fire‚?Ě at Stash and other law enforcement officers.
Jean Bayyoud, 34, who resides on the fifth floor five apartments away, said she was awakened when gunfire erupted.
‚??I heard a good 18 rounds,‚?Ě Bayyoud said. ‚??It‚??s a mess. There are all sorts of gunshot shells. There is blood all over the floor.‚?Ě
Bayyoud said she initially thought the noise was maintenance doing work in an adjoining apartment until she realized it was gunfire.
When she left her apartment, she saw the carnage in the hallway.
‚??I smelled that sulfur smell; I looked down the hallway and the cops were marking down the bullets and shells. It was more prominent in the hallway. At least 18 rounds were marked. I don‚??t know how many rounds were marked in the apartment,‚?Ě Bayyoud said.
Salavantis said the elder Montgomery suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
‚??The most recent reports indicate he is awake, alert and coherent,‚?Ě she said. ‚??We are awaiting ballistics to determine if in fact he was struck by gunfire from his own son‚??s weapon.‚?Ě
Criminal investigators with the state police at Wyoming spent most of the day at the high-rise. A Luzerne County sheriff deputy was stationed at the entrance to Parkview Circle, which leads to the high-rise, permitting only residents to come and go.
Delivery trucks were turned away except for a U.S. letter carrier.
The shooting has left Bayyoud and another high-rise tenant, Christina Robles, 33, in shock.
‚??It‚??s crazy,‚?Ě Robles said while pushing a small grocery cart. ‚??I‚??m 6 ¬Ĺ months pregnant. I don‚??t want to raise my daughter here.‚?Ě
Robles said she had frequently heard gunfire and seen police in the Sherman Hills apartment complex in the 2 ¬Ĺ months she has lived in the high-rise.
Sherman Hills is made up of eight three-story apartment buildings and one eight-story building consisting of 104 one-bedroom apartments.
‚??It seems like it‚??s every single night police are here for something,‚?Ě Robles said. ‚??I‚??ve heard gunshots from my apartment and minutes later, you‚??ll see police.‚?Ě
‚??I don‚??t want to point the finger at Sherman Hills,‚?Ě Dessoye said. ‚??Obviously, what happened today is a result of an individual‚??s bad choice by attacking our police officers. It‚??s no secret Sherman Hills has its share of crime, but that is not the issue today. The issue is there are officers who acted in a very heroic manner today and an individual that was certainly a career criminal made a bad choice and unfortunately that person paid the price and more unfortunately, one of my officers was injured in it.‚?Ě
Salavantis said she has cleared the officers involved in the deadly shooting, citing evidence and the ‚??preliminary investigation‚?Ě by state police.
The district attorney said the investigation is ongoing and she has not ruled out charging the elder Montgomery with harboring a fugitive.
Montgomery‚??s body was removed from the high-rise by Luzerne County Acting Coroner Bill Lisman and Deputy Coroner Dan Hughes at about 2:30 p.m.
An autopsy by forensic pathologist Dr. Gary Ross determined Montgomery died from multiple gunshot wounds.
WILKES-BARRE ‚?? City police have responded to reports of numerous shootings, robberies and assaults at the Sherman Hills apartment complex off of Coal and North Empire streets.
Among the recent reports were:
‚?ĘAug. 1: Erik Steadele, 22, and Eric Williams, 22, both of Wilkes-Barre, were charged with stabbing Joel Steinruck in Building 320.
‚?Ę July 25: An unknown person fired several shots at apartments 403 and 404 in Building 308. No injuries were reported.
‚?Ę June 16: Police said a man was shot in the apartment complex.
‚?Ę May 27: Police charged DeJuane Gause, 26, of Pittston, and Natalie Thomas, 24, of Wilkes-Barre, with assaulting a pregnant woman.
‚?Ę March 17: Police charged Richard Mitchell, 35, of Wilkes-Barre, after a firearm with an altered serial number was found inside an apartment in Building 320. Police were investigating a burglary at another apartment when the firearm was found.
‚?Ę Jan. 14: A man delivering food from Great Wall Chinese restaurant told police he was robbed by a gunman at Building 320.
‚?Ę Jan. 2: A man delivering food from Tin-Tin Chinese restaurant told police he was robbed inside Building 320.
‚?Ę Dec. 28, 2011: A delivery employee from Golden Palace Chinese restaurant told police he was robbed in front of Building 320.
‚?Ę Dec. 27, 2011: A delivery employee from Great Wall Chinese restaurant told police he was robbed inside Building 316.
‚?Ę Dec. 26, 2011: A delivery employee from Great Wall Chinese restaurant told police he was robbed at gunpoint inside Building 328.