Decades in prison for Shrewsbury Walmart robber shot by trooper

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Thomas Markowski

The man who robbed a Shrewsbury Walmart with a sawed-off shotgun, then pointed the weapon at a state trooper as he was fleeing, will likely die in prison.

Thomas Markowski, 61, appeared in York County Court on Monday, Aug. 26, and was sentenced to 24½ to 49 years in state prison by presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness.

Markowski will receive credit for the 1,168 days he has spent locked up as he awaited trial and sentencing.

Ness said "there's no doubt in my mind" Markowski intended to endanger the lives of everyone inside the store.

Markowski was shot by state police Trooper Darrio Parham just inside the Walmart after he pointed his shotgun toward the trooper, security video of the encounter showed.

His defense attorney, Bill Graff, reminded the judge that Markowski maintains he didn't intend to shoot Parham and asked for mercy for his client.

But Ness reminded the defendant that video of the incident showed Markowski's finger was on the trigger of the shotgun he had modified specifically to rob the Shrewsbury Walmart of fentanyl on April 7, 2016. And after Parham shoved the barrel to the side, the shotgun fired, the judge noted.

'Ouch': Chief deputy prosecutor Chuck Murphy requested Markowski be sentenced to 25 to 50 years, causing Graff to respond by saying, "Ouch."

State police say a trooper shot Thomas Markowski as the man was fleeing the Shrewsbury Walmart after robbing it of fentanyl on April 7, 2016.
(Bill Kalina photo)

Markowski did not speak on his own behalf at sentencing.

Murphy told The York Dispatch he believes Markowski is still a danger to society and that the length of the prison sentence means the thwarted armed robber will likely die in state prison.

"This was something he had planned ahead of time,"  Murphy said of the robbery. "When it didn't go his way, he took the extra step of ... trying to shoot the trooper."

The prosecutor said Markowski deserves to be locked up for the rest of his life and said the defendant actually loaded his shotgun at Walmart's pharmacy counter when the pharmacy assistant was taking too long giving him the fentanyl patches he'd demanded.

Markowski suffered a gunshot wound to the chest after pointing his shotgun at Parham, who was so close to the fleeing robber that he was able to push the barrel to the side.

In security video, Markowski can be seen holding the sawed-off gun in his left hand and clutching four boxes of fentanyl patches in his right.

As Parham moved the barrel to the side, Markowski pulled the trigger. No one was hurt. Markowski claims the gun simply "went off."

More:York-area man guilty of shooting at trooper after robbing Shrewsbury Walmart

The background: Markowski, of Crestview Drive in York Township, opted for a non-jury trial before Ness on May 21, meaning it was up to the judge to determine guilt or innocence.

Ness took about 10 minutes to find Markowski guilty of all charges against him, including attempted murder of a police officer, assault on a law-enforcement officer, robbery, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and possession of a prohibited offensive weapon.

Thomas Markowski

Markowski took the stand in his own defense May 21, admitting that less than an hour before he robbed the Walmart, he used a jigsaw and a grinder to remove about 6 inches from the barrel of his 12-gauge shotgun, as well as part of the stock butt.

He testified he'd been using fentanyl patches that were prescribed to him for 10 years and was addicted to the powerful opioid.

Markowski claimed in court that he couldn't shoot a cop because of the way he was raised. He told the judge that his father and two brothers were police officers.

He neglected to mention during his testimony that he was a Baltimore City cop for five or six years as a young man. Graff said Markowski spent the bulk of his adult work life in the private sector, including in construction, in Maryland.

The robbery: Markowski approached Walmart's pharmacy counter in a motorized wheelchair, the type available at the front of stores for customer use.

He demanded four boxes of fentanyl patches, said he had a gun and told pharmacy worker Terry White she had five seconds to hand over the fentanyl, according to trial testimony.

White testified that when the pharmacist asked where Markowski's prescription was, White told the pharmacist, "He doesn't have a prescription — he has a gun."

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