BROOKVILLE — Members of local emergency agencies were reportedly able to reach and detain a Punxsutawney man allegedly believed to have been planning a mass shooting at a truck stop in Brookville on July 20.
Brookville Borough Police filed charges against Christopher R. Strimple, 30, including criminal attempt –murder, according to court documents filed at Magisterial District Judge Gregory Bazylak’s office.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Brookville Borough Police concluded, “Based on the evidence and facts presented, it is believed Strimple had the intent to commit mass murder. Strimple within the past week purchased two firearms and ammunition (totaling) 90 rounds. Strimple admitted to homicidal thoughts toward everyone. Strimple took the step to transport the firearms and ammunition to a high traffic public place where he was having homicidal thoughts.”
“Our department, along with the Jefferson-Clearfield Crisis and the Jefferson County District Attorney, between the three of us working together hand-in-hand, we were able to stop this individual before we had a tragedy in our community,” Brookville Police Chief Vince Markle said. “I’m proud of my department, I’m proud of Crisis, and I can’t thank the DA enough for taking the time to assist us on the investigation.”
According to the affidavit of probable cause, a concerned person contacted the Jefferson-Clearfield Crisis Center hotline after receiving concerning text messages from Strimple about dying, and having a face-to-face interaction where he was “very agitated.”
A Crisis representative was given a phone number for Strimple, and was able to contact him. Strimple indicated to the representative he was not suicidal, but had thoughts of homicide. He said these thoughts were not directed to anyone specific, but said he had two firearms — an AR-15 and 9mm — in his vehicle.
During the call, it was determined Strimple was at the Flying J Travel Center on Allegheny Boulevard in Brookville. The Crisis representative then called for a police escort to the scene because of safety concerns.
Police responded to Flying J and located the vehicle known to be Strimple’s. While inspecting it, the trunk suddenly opened and Strimple appeared in the parking lot seeming “very distraught and agitated,” according to the affidavit.
Strimple allegedly threw a key to the officer and told them the guns were in the trunk of the car. He complied with showing his hands and was handcuffed for safety concerns.
According to the affidavit, police recovered a pistol version AR-15, one fully-loaded magazine and two partially-loaded magazines in the trunk. The 9mm pistol was found once Strimple told police it was in a black carry case. The 9mm was found unloaded in the case with two fully-loaded magazines next to it.
Once at the police station, Strimple continued to be agitated and reportedly seemed to be hallucinating. Police noted in the affidavit it was “apparent that Strimple was experiencing an emotional rollercoaster.”
Strimple was transported to an area hospital for evaluation, the affidavit stated.
On July 21, during a search of Strimple’s vehicle, police reportedly found a black tactical bag on the front passenger seat that contained a tactical knife, paracord, compass, flashlight, tactical multi-tool, bacterial wipes and gauze.
Police noted Strimple had recently lost his job and allegedly sought admission to two hospitals in the days before July 20.
Strimple’s case is currently inactive in the court system.
“This type of thing has been going on for years, but like I said, your ability to react to situations like this determines how many people live and how many people die. Those are harsh words, but it’s reality,” Markle said.
Markle recently discussed the training he puts his officers through, specifically for possible mass shooting scenarios at a recent borough council meeting.
“Training is always beneficial. Any training you go to, you should get something out of it,” Markle said. “This day and age, you just have to utilize everybody and every resource to protect your community. The police alone can’t do it, Crisis alone can’t do it. You just have to work hand-in-hand with everyone.”
Markle said he hopes this opens peoples’ eyes that “this type of thing can happen around here. It can happen here just as easily as it can happen anywhere else.” He said it takes not only the police and organizations working together, but also citizens.