BETHLEHEM, Pa. — A man who held police at bay inside a Pennsylvania home for more than eight hours while a woman’s body lay in the yard is believed to have killed her before ending his own life, authorities said.
State police said Justin Kephart, 36, was found dead in the Bethlehem Township home when police entered at about 9:45 p.m. Friday. Township police officers responded after a 911 caller just before 1:30 p.m. Friday reporting a woman lying in the yard “bleeding.”
Lt. Joseph Sokolofski said offices were fired upon as they approached the woman and were unable to render aid. An armored vehicle drew fire after it was called in to extract an officer who was pinned down.
Sokolofski said Kephart apparently used a semi-automatic rifle. He lived at the home with his grandmother, who wasn’t home. Police haven’t confirmed the identity of the woman killed.
Douglas Wallace, 70, told The (Allentown) Morning Call that he was pinned to the cold ground for three hours by the gunfire. After a neighbor had told him about the woman in the yard, he went out to try to help her, thinking she was the victim of a heart attack or stroke, but then saw a red spot on her back, he said.
“I’m talking to her. She ain’t moving,” he said, adding she had a “funeral parlor” look. “She’s dead. She’s been shot.”
As a police officer was checking the woman gunfire began to erupt from the home, and the officer dove behind a car while Wallace went behind a blue pickup truck. For the next three hours, he said, he watched as police moved armored vehicles in and the gunman fired at them.
“You could see where the bullets were hitting and had bounced off,” Wallace said.
Eventually, police were able to provide enough cover to get Wallace and the officer to safety.