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PSP: Chase suspect shot by York police expected to survive

Liz Evans Scolforo

A York Haven man shot by York City Police after allegedly stealing an idling SUV and using it to ram pursuing police cruisers is expected to survive his wounds, according to state police. The officer who shot him also is recovering from injuries, police said.

Terry Eugene Diffenderfer, 30, of 32 N. Front St., remains in York Hospital. His condition could not be obtained from a hospital spokesman Tuesday.

Terry Diffenderfer

But Trooper Brent Miller, a state police spokesman, said his agency has been told Diffenderfer will likely be released from the hospital in a few days. Miller also confirmed the man remains under guard at York Hospital.

Officer hurt: The officer who shot Diffenderfer is recovering from a concussion he suffered when Diffenderfer crashed the stolen SUV into a York City police cruiser, York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said.

Diffenderfer was arraigned Monday on numerous charges during a bedside arraignment at the hospital by on-duty District Judge Linda Williams, who set bail at $40,000, according to a staff member at Williams' office.

He is charged with four counts of aggravated assault, being a convicted felon in illegal firearm possession, fleeing or attempting to elude police and two counts each of theft and criminal mischief. All the charges are felonies.

Diffenderfer also is charged with the following misdemeanors: three counts of reckless endangerment, two counts of simple assault, driving under the influence of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia. He's been cited with the summary offenses of reckless driving, causing an accident involving property damage and trespass by motor vehicle.

PSP probe: Because a York City officer shot Diffenderfer, state police are conducting an independent investigation at the behest of York City Police and the York County District Attorney's Office, Miller said.

Once the investigation is complete, findings will be turned over to District Attorney Tom Kearney, who will then decide whether the officer-involved shooting was justified, Miller confirmed.

There is no timetable for completing the investigation, according to Miller, who said it could be weeks or months, depending on factors including whether forensic testing is needed.

Terry Diffenderfer

The city officer who shot Diffenderfer remains on administrative leave as state troopers investigate, Kahley said.

The officer, whose name has not yet been released, also must take part in a debriefing of the event and must meet with a counselor — all standard protocol for officer-involved shootings, the chief confirmed. He said the officer also must recover from his concussion before returning to active duty.

According to charging documents, a turkey hunter left his white Mercury Mountaineer idling in the parking lot of the Royal Farms convenience store at the corner of Route 30 and Roosevelt Avenue shortly before 4:30 a.m. Saturday. Police say he left a Mossberg 930 semi-automatic shotgun inside the SUV.

Tracking app: The hunter told officers he went inside the store for a few minutes, and when he came out he saw his SUV leaving the lot with a man driving and a woman in the passenger seat, police said. The man used his "Find My iPhone" app to track his vehicle, according to police.

Officers caught up to the SUV on Roosevelt Avenue and tried to stop it, but Diffenderfer accelerated and fled, making his way to Newberry Street, then onto West Princess Street, where the SUV sheared off a utility pole and crashing into a large flowerpot, documents state.

Diffenderfer continued to flee until he drove into a parking lot in the 200 block of West Market Street, where police closed off all avenues of escape, according to state police.

State police said Terry Diffenderfer stole this SUV on Saturday, April 29, 2017, and later rammed York City police cruisers that had him surrounded.
(Photo courtesy of Southern PA Incident Network)

Charging documents state that troopers were able to watch high-quality video surveillance footage, provided by a nearby resident, of what happened in that parking lot.

The SUV entered the lot at 4:29 a.m., followed by two York City police cruisers, one of which followed the SUV as the second blocked the sole escape route, according to documents.

Crashed into cruisers: Diffenderfer stopped the SUV and backed up, then accelerated and crashed into the cruiser nearest to him, "causing substantial damage," charging documents state. He then forced the SUV past the second cruiser but found himself "at yet another dead end," documents state.

At that point, the cruiser that had been rammed pulled behind the SUV and the officer started to get out of his vehicle, which is when Diffenderfer reversed and crashed into it a second time, pushing the cruiser backward and causing its door to close on the officer, according to charging documents.

Deputy cleared in fatal shooting

The officer fired five rounds from his service pistol at Diffenderfer as the man continued to back up toward the officer, state police said.

At that point the SUV abruptly turned, went through a large wooden fence and stopped against a concrete abutment along the Codorus Creek, documents state. Officers were able to arrest Diffenderfer and take into custody the woman in the passenger seat, identified in court documents as Ashley Brown, no age or address provided.

Brown told officers she and Diffenderfer did heroin together before he stole the SUV, charging documents state.

Drug paraphernalia: Brown also identified a backpack found in the SUV as belonging to Diffenderfer, according to police. Inside the bag was drug paraphernalia, including several syringes, smoking pipes, a spoon and rolling papers, police said.

On Tuesday, Miller — the state police spokesman — said the hunter has not been charged for leaving his idling car unlocked with a shotgun in it.

"It's under further investigation," he said, and confirmed a decision has not yet been made on whether charges are appropriate.

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The investigation remains ongoing against Brown as well, according to Miller.

Diffenderfer's criminal history since 2006 includes convictions in York County for burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, theft, receiving stolen property, theft from a motor vehicle and shoplifting.

His co-defendant in a 2011 burglary case was Ashley Nicole Brown, 26, of York, court records state.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.