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Pa. state troopers injured after 4 shot dead on rural road

Posted at 2:30 PM, Dec 21, 2012

(CNN) -- A man killed two men and one woman Friday in central Pennsylvania, then died in a gunfight with state troopers, authorities said.

The first report of shots fired "at multiple locations" in Frankstown Township came in a 911 call placed around 9 a.m., Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said. As state troopers converged on the area, someone in a truck -- going the opposite direction on a two-lane road -- fired at two marked patrol cars.

The truck's driver continued driving and then "rammed ... head-on" into a different patrol car, Bivens said. He then got out of his vehicle and began firing at officers.

State troopers returned fire, eventually killing the truck's driver.

Three state police members were hurt in the response. One was struck in the wrist by bullet fragments and in his chest -- which was protected by body armor -- by a bullet. Another trooper got glass fragments in his eyes and bullet fragments in his forehead. The third suffered minor injuries in the car accident with the shooter's truck.

"It was a very violent attack," Bivens said, adding all three had been treated and released from a local hospital as of Friday evening. "As more details come out about the investigation, I think you'll see just how lucky they really were ... Someone was watching over them."

By 10 a.m., the "active shooter situation" in Frankstown Township, about 7 miles southeast of Altoona and 100 miles east of Pittsburgh was under control, the Blair County Emergency Management Agency reported on its Facebook page.

But the gruesome story wasn't over. After this episode played out, authorities discovered three slain people at three different locations.

One woman was killed at Juniata Valley Gospel Church, one man was found dead in a residence, and another man was killed after getting into a car accident with the truck's driver, added Bivens. All three had been shot.

"It is believed that the male subject committed three homicides before encountering the troopers," Trooper Jeffrey Petucci said.

Their killing and the exchange of gunfire that led to the shooter's death occurred in "a relatively short duration of time," added Petucci, and physically all within a 1.5-mile radius.

Authorities have not identified the shooter or the victims. "I don't believe you're going to find any biological relationship between the (shooter) and the victims," Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio said, adding the three victims "were not immediate family" of one another.

No explanation has been given for the bloodshed. "Some weapons" tied to the episode have been seized, though Bivens did not detail the type of firearms, how they had been obtained or how they were used Friday.

"It is safe to say there was more than one weapon seized from the crime scene," he said.

By noon, the Blair County Emergency Agency said on Facebook, "There is no longer a threat to residents and visitors to this area from this individual." A roadway -- Juniata Valley Road, between Geeseytown and Canoe Creek State Park -- was closed for the rest of the day Friday "as the Pennsylvania State Police process the crime scene along this route for evidence."

In the wake of the shootings, a prayer service for the community was scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Geeseytown Lutheran Church in Frankstown Township.

CNN's Jake Carpenter contributed to this report.