Saturday, Jul. 26, 2008
By Pete Bosak and Jennifer Thomas- Centredaily.com
FERGUSON TOWNSHIP — A mentally ill man armed with a shotgun, apparently bent on reaching a radio station in Cato Park, slammed his SUV into two police cars and opened fire on officers before dying in a hail of gunfire Friday morning.
Stunned police were unable to say why Brian E. Neiman, 50, of Pottersdale, who also resided recently in Casper, Wyo., targeted Christian radio station WTLR. Nor could they explain why he appeared to force a deadly confrontation with officers who arrived just in time to stop him.
“I think this was suicide by police,” said local attorney Dale Miller, who stood transfixed, not more than 40 yards away, as the scene unfolded. A bullet shattered a car taillight to Miller’s right during the gun battle, while another went through a window above his head.
Miller described a frightening scene in which Neiman raced his Bronco across grass and parking lots around the radio station before ramming into a Ferguson Township police cruiser. Neiman then stuck the barrel of a shotgun out his window and fired, Miller said.
“I saw the smoke from the shotgun,” Miller said. “It was amazing.”
When it was over at 11 a.m., Neiman was dead inside his Bronco. No police officers were injured.
Ferguson Township Police Chief Diane Conrad said Friday afternoon she could offer little insight into Neiman’s motives, but that the investigation is ongoing. Neiman’s ex-wife said in interview Friday that Neiman was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2005 and could become violent when he didn’t take his medication.
Because Neiman was apparently shot and killed by Ferguson Township police, the Pennsylvania State Police were asked to lead the investigation. A contingent of troopers were at the scene by mid-afternoon including a state police helicopter taking images of the scene from above.
Conrad confirmed witness accounts that Neiman fired on officers.