Suspect in NJ double homicide fatally shot by officers after pursuit in Wyomissing

Update: Officers justified in fatal shooting of suspect after police chase in Wyomissing, DA says

Original post: The Pennsylvania State Police, Troop L Major Case Team, along with the Berks County District Attorney’s Office are investigating after a wanted suspect was shot to death by police following a brief car chase in Wyomissing.

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On March 30th, around 6:30pm, State Police were notified of a double-homicide suspect that was potentially in the Wyomissing area.

They described the person as a 53-year-old male from Philadelphia, who was considered armed and dangerous. Authorities say they were on high alert and took swift action to locate and apprehend the suspect before he could cause any further harm.

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Earlier in the week, on Monday, March 27, 2023, the Gloucester City Police Department and the Gloucester City Fire Department, New Jersey, responded to a motel located at 1200 Route 130 in Gloucester City for a fire alarm. Officers located a deceased male and deceased female in a room, suffering from apparent gunshot wounds.

The female victim was identified as Tabitha Price, 56, of Gulf Shores, Alabama, and the male victim was identified as Steven Smith, 52, of Atco, New Jersey. Firefighters also located and extinguished a fire in a separate room at the location.

On Wednesday, March 29, 2023, Gloucester Police identified the suspect as Vaughn Perkins, 53, of Philadelphia, as the individual who caused the fire and was considered the person of interest in the fatal shootings.

On Thursday, March 30th, the Perkins was identified in connection to a shooting in Philadelphia. In that case, he is accused of openly firing on two individuals sitting on a porch for laughing at him hitting a speed bump. One victim is in critical condition, the other listed in stable condition. Authorities say video camera captured the license plate and car.

Following the shooting in Philadelphia, officers received a region wide BOLO (be in the look out) alert. Soon after, investigators say patrol officers observed the suspect on State Hill Road, in close proximity to the Berkshire Mall. When they attempted to conduct a traffic stop, a police chase began. A little while later, the suspect crashed in the backyard of a residence in the 900 block of Spring Street, Berkshire Heights section of Wyomissing.

“The suspect drove into the backyard of the residence on Spring Street, where his vehicle became disabled. Multiple units surrounded his vehicle and gave several verbal commands to him,” Captain Bailey, the Chief Commander of Troop L, stated.

Investigators say additional police units arrived from nearby departments, surrounded the suspect’s vehicle, and provided instructions. Despite this, the suspect, who investigators say had a rifle, disobeyed orders from officers on the scene. The officers then shot and killed Perkins. The Berks County Coroner’s Office pronounced him dead at the scene.

“The suspect who was observed to have a firearm, a rifle across his chest, failed to obey their commands. PSP troopers, along with West Reading PD, discharged their firearms at the suspect,” Captain Bailey explained.

”We are very fortunate that no one else was injured. All the responding officers displayed courageous acts of bravery in their attempt to apprehend this individual,” District Attorney John T. Adams said.

The Pennsylvania State Police and the District Attorney’s office are currently investigating the fatal shooting of Perkins in Wyomissing.

Currently, there are nine officers total, from West Reading, Wyomissing, and State Police, on administrative leave as the investigation is ongoing. Officials say it is a common practice to put officers on leave when involved in shootings.

As the investigation continues, authorities say they will release more specific information.

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Mackenzie Coombs
Mackenzie Coombshttps://rdgmag.com/author/mackenziecoombs/
I’m a journalist with a bachelor’s degree in communication, specializing in journalism. I enjoy watching the New York Mets, reading crime novels, painting landscapes, and writing for the people.
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