Jim Fitzhugh would much rather forget what he saw early Saturday morning when he ventured out of his Springfield Township apartment to investigate a series of loud noises.

What he found was a crashed Mercedes SUV, its engine revving loudly, and a dazed man with a knife inside in the parking lot of the apartment building in the 6800 block of Reynolds Mill Road.

"There was blood everywhere," Fitzhugh said on Sunday. "He just had (this) 'I-was-hurt' look on his face."

The man was later identified by York County Coroner Pam Gay as 40-year-old Joseph Penderghest of Herndon, Va..

He was shot and killed by state police troopers when he came at them with a knife, Trooper Robert Hicks said in an email.

The troopers attempted to disarm Penderghest, who was using the knife to harm himself, using less lethal measures but were unsuccessful, police said.

The crash: Fitzhugh said he and his wife were watching television in their bedroom when, just after 1 a.m., they heard two loud booms they thought was thunder and the satellite TV and the electricity went out.

That's when he went outside to find Penderghest's SUV had struck a utility pole and three parked cars before coming to a stop in the parking lot. Fitzhugh's wife called 911 and handed the phone over to her husband.

Fitzhugh went to help, opening the passenger-side door of the SUV and tried to coax Penderghest, who was revving the engine, out of the SUV that had caught fire in the crash.


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"He showed me the knife he had in his hand," Fitzhugh said, adding he fled and told the 911 dispatcher about the knife.

Soon after two state police troopers showed up and used pepper spray and Tasers in attempts to disarm Penderghest.

"They tased him at least three or four times," Fitzhugh said.

Police account: According to Hicks, the troopers found Penderghest "actively cutting himself with an 8-inch folding knife."

Gay said Penderghest was trying to cut his wrists but it's not clear if he was successful.

"I don't really know the extend of those wounds," she said.

An autopsy and toxicology tests will be performed at Lehigh Valley Hospital on Monday.

The troopers ordered Penderghest to stop, but he refused. Pepper spray and Tasers used by the troopers were also unsuccessful in getting him to stop, Hicks said in a press release about the incident.

That's when Penderghest turned on the troopers, and headed toward them, police said. The troopers fired their weapons, fatally wounding Penderghest.

Penderghest was outside of the SUV at the time of shooting, Fitzhugh said.

Shots fired: Fitzhugh said the two troopers fired a combined four shots at Penderghest with little or no effect. Troopers fired another round of four shots and ordeal was over, Fitzhugh said.

"I didn't see him (Penderghest) charge (at troopers) or anything, but that's not to say it didn't happen," he said.

After the shooting, the troopers pulled Penderghest away from the burning SUV.

State police, as well as the York County Coroner's Office and the District Attorney's Office continue to investigate the shooting.

State police have not released the names of the troopers involved in the shooting. Hicks didn't return a call seeking additional comment Sunday.

Now Fitzhugh said he's trying to forget what he saw.

But he's also keeping in mind Penderghest's family and the troopers who are dealing with the mental and emotional ramifications of taking someone's life.

"The way I see it, the cops gave him every chance (to put down the knife)," Fitzhugh said.

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.