Officer Chad McGowan

(Harrisburg Bureau of Police, Pennsylvania)

On December 22, 2017, at 4:00 p.m., Officer Chad McGowan was working in the City of Harrisburg with several other Harrisburg Police officers. He was assigned to a street crimes unit that deals with street level investigations of guns, drugs, and violent crimes. While on patrol, he was advised of a call for assistance from a neighboring jurisdiction where a Capitol Police officer had come under gun fire. The officer's police vehicle was shot at and hit several times while traveling just outside of the State Capitol Building. The officer's vehicle received heavy gun fire from a male suspect in a vehicle that the officer was pursuing. Several minutes later the suspect fired upon a Pennsylvania State trooper in her vehicle when she responded to the assist call. The bullets struck her vehicle and grazed her head with a bullet fragment.

Officer McGowan was able to locate the suspect and his vehicle shortly after his assault on the Capitol Police officer and state trooper. Officer McGowan had a county probation officer and three officers in training riding along in his vehicle. When the suspect saw Officer McGowan's unmarked police vehicle, he immediately pulled over and exited his vehicle, and began walking toward them holding a handgun. Fearing for his safety as well as the lives of the officers in his vehicle, Officer McGowan got out, identified himself, and ordered the suspect to drop his weapon. In response, the suspect raised his handgun and began firing at the officers. Officer McGowan was able to take cover beside his vehicle and exchanged gun fire with the suspect while the three trainee officers and the probation officer exited the vehicle and sought cover.

The suspect began charging toward the officers and fired his weapon until he ran out of bullets. Officer McGowan held his position and returned fire. The suspect then retreated back to his vehicle to retrieve a second handgun and a blue cylinder. Officer McGowan continued to fire at the suspect, striking him several times and causing him to drop the blue cylinder and fall to the ground. Officer McGowan, disregarding his own safety, held his position and alerted other responding officers to the possibility that the suspect had an explosive device.

The injured suspect was still able to raise his handgun while lying on the ground and fired it over his head at the officers. Officer McGowan and a Pennsylvania State Police trooper who had arrived on the scene returned fire, fatally wounding the suspect and ending his assault.

Officer Chad McGowan's quick identification of the suspect's vehicle and his decisive action to confront the suspect saved further officers from serious injury or death. His actions demonstrated extraordinary bravery and a willingness to place himself in harm’s way, without any regard to his own personal safety, to protect his fellow officers and the community he serves.

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