Police: Man shot by trooper robbed pharmacy with sawed-off shotgun

Liz Evans Scolforo

A York Township man shot by a state trooper at the entrance of the Shrewsbury Walmart Thursday night had just used a sawed-off shotgun to rob the store pharmacy of four boxes of fentanyl patches, according to charging documents.

A state trooper shot an armed robber in the chest at the entrance of the Shrewsbury Walmart the night of Thursday, April 7, 2016, according to charging documents.
(Photo courtesy of cbs21.com)

Thomas Allen Markowski, 57, of 2716 Crestview Drive, remains in York Hospital, officials said.  York Hospital had no information about Markowski on Sunday afternoon.

A family member who answered Markowski's door on Friday declined comment on behalf of the family.

A state police trooper based in Carlisle is investigating the robbery and shooting, and he has filed charging documents against the man. Hicks said that's standard procedure to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

Markowski was leaving the store when he was confronted by an arriving trooper from the York barracks, and a "brief struggle" ensued, documents state.

Markowski pointed a Mossberg 500A 12-gauge shotgun at the trooper and fired, documents state. But the trooper was able to push the barrel aside, according to Trooper Rob Hicks, a state police spokesman.

The shotgun blast struck an interior wall near the main entrance, where numerous customers were located, according to documents.

Shooting at Shrewsbury Walmart sends man to the hospital

Shot in chest: The trooper returned fire, hitting Markowski in the chest, at which point the trooper disarmed Markowski, documents state. Both the barrel and stock of the gun had been sawed off, which is illegal, according to documents.

"The trooper was able to simultaneously push the muzzle of the shotgun away as both fired one shot (each)," Hicks wrote in an email.

While the trooper was disarming the alleged armed robber, four boxes of fentanyl patches fell out of a trash bag Markowski had been holding, according to documents.

The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Markowski was taken to York Hospital by ambulance, police said.

According to charging documents, Markowski called the pharmacy Thursday evening to ask if they had four boxes of fentanyl and was told they did; he said he would be in later for them.

A pharmacy technician told police that at about 7:40 p.m., Markowski approached the pharmacy counter in a motorized wheelchair, "and he looked different than he has in the past," according to charging documents. The motorized chair is owned by Walmart, Hicks said — the type available at the front of stores for customer use.

The Walmart in Shrewsbury was closed Friday, April 8, 2016, after a state trooper shot an alleged armed robber inside the store the night before. Bill Kalina photo

'Five seconds': He demanded four boxes of the opioid patches and said he had a gun, documents allege.

"He also related that she had five (5) seconds," documents state. The pharmacy technician told police she alerted the pharmacist, who called 911.

"Markowski reached through the window and started to count 5-4-3-2-1," then walked to the cashier area of the pharmacy carrying a shotgun, documents state.

He was given the drug patches, at which point he left and headed toward the store's exit, according to documents.

The pharmacy technician told investigators it was only about 10 seconds later that she heard two gunshots.

Hicks said Markowski abandoned the wheelchair after the robbery and was leaving Walmart on foot.

A state police trooper shot Thomas Markowski the night of Thursday, April 7, 2016, after he allegedly robbed the pharmacy with a sawed-off shotgun, according to police.
(Photo courtesy of cbs.21)

The charges: Markowski has not yet been arraigned, officials said. He will be charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, theft, possessing an instrument of crime, possessing a prohibited offensive weapon and reckless endangerment.

The last charge is being lodged because police allege Markowski put numerous Walmart shoppers in danger when he fired in the store, according to documents.

Those documents, which serve as an arrest warrant for Markowski, were signed by an on-duty magisterial district judge, according to Hicks.

The trooper who shot Markowski has been placed on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated and reviewed, Hicks said. That's standard procedure in all trooper-involved shootings, he said.

'A risk we accept': The trooper is doing OK, according to Hicks.

"He was definitely shaken — understandably so — right after the incident," Hicks said. "But it is my understanding that overall, he's doing OK."

While it doesn't happen often, law-enforcement officers do get shot and fired upon.

"So while it's unfortunate and always kind of shocking ... it is a reality that comes with the job," he said. "And it's a risk we accept."

The Walmart reopened at 6 a.m. Saturday.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.