Deadly shooting at truck stop in Upper Bern Township leads to swift arrest

In the early hours of the morning, tragedy struck at the Love’s Truck Stop on Mountain Road in Upper Bern Township, just off Interstate 78 in Berks County. Pennsylvania State Police Captain Robert Bailey, commanding officer of Troop L, provided details into the homicide investigation during a press conference Friday afternoon in Reading.

At approximately 2:48 AM, patrol troopers from Troop L Hamburg station responded to a distressing call reporting a shooting in the rear parking lot of the establishment. The victim, identified as James Alexander Hilton, a 40-year-old from Southampton, New Jersey, succumbed to his injuries despite efforts by EMS responders at the scene.

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The alleged assailant fled towards Interstate 78, prompting an immediate response from law enforcement. Troopers swiftly issued a BOLO (be on the lookout) alert to neighboring PSP stations, including Troop M Fogelsville. The collaborative efforts bore fruit as Troop M Fogelsville patrol units spotted a tractor-trailer matching the description on the exit 45 ramp in Lehigh County, subsequently intercepting it at exit 40 on Interstate 78 westbound.

The suspect was apprehended at approximately 3:31 AM by patrol troopers. Preliminary investigations suggest the victim was helping a fellow driver park his truck in the lot. There was an argument between the victim and suspect. This led to the suspect shooting the victim.

Captain Bailey emphasized that the investigation remains ongoing, with the major case team actively pursuing all leads. While details surrounding the relationship between the victim and the assailant remain unclear, authorities underscored the gravity of the situation and expressed gratitude for the swift response of patrol members, whose prompt actions led to the capture of the suspect within an hour of the incident.

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“This is another example of a senseless act of violence resulting in a death, but I must say this is also quite the team effort to apprehend this suspect so quickly in the middle of the night” said Berks County District Attorney John Adams. “I want to commend the great work of the Pennsylvania State police to take this violent offender off the streets within an hour of this of this incident.”

An arrest warrant was obtained and served on Travis Jerell Pugh of Jacksonville, Florida. The arrest warrant is for Murder 1st degree, Murder 3 degree, Possession of a Firearm without a permit, Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Recklessly Endangering Another Person (2 counts), Tampering with Evidence, Disorderly Conduct and Harassment. The charges were filed with District Court 23-3-07.

Pugh is currently incarcerated at the Berks County Prison.

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Jason Hugg
Jason Hugg
Editor and photographer at Berks Weekly.
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