A western Pennsylvania community is in shock after a 27-year-old police officer fatally shot the man authorities say stabbed him multiple times.
And one Butler resident may be credited with saving the officer’s life.
“I saw the policeman fall over here with a knife sticking out of his stomach,” Butler resident George Schmidt told KDKA. “And he reached over, he reached for his gun, and pop, pop, pop.”
The officer, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who had been with the Butler police for three years, is in critical condition and was flown to the UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh after the incident Tuesday morning.
Butler police had received a call around 7 a.m. for a report of a man acting erratically and jumping in and out of traffic.
As soon as the officer, whose name has not been released, got to West Jefferson Street, he and the suspect, identified as 35-year-old John Ebberts, got into a struggle, police say.
During that struggle, police say Ebberts stabbed the officer multiple times before the officer shot and killed him.
Ebberts’ partner told WPXI Ebberts was fun-loving and caring and never hurt anyone before, but he suffered from mental illness, WPXI is reporting.
It’s an incident that has stunned many in the community.
“They have a tough job and, you know, they put their life on the line all the time,” Roger Hoffman, owner of Hoffman Auto Parts in Butler, told WPXI. “It’s a shame. I mean, this is our world, this is what it’s come to. Butler’s been a nice little town, and we’ve sort of been exempt from a lot of this stuff to the last 10 or 15 years. It just isn’t what it used to be.”
And Butler resident Schmidt witnessed much of the incident and may have saved the officer’s life.
“I was standing right here. I felt the bullets go by,” he told KDKA.
Schmidt, himself a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, told the station his training kicked in when he saw the officer had been stabbed.
“I took my shirt off and I put it on his wound,” Schmidt told KDKA. “I had it just firm, not moving the knife at all. Just putting my hand with a T-shirt and trying to keep the blood from flowing.”
The medics arrived and started taking care of the officer, and that’s when Schmidt, still shaken up, told the station, “I lost it. I started crying.”
He’s hoping his efforts saved the officer and said he was in the right place at the right time.
“I have a guardian angel,” he told KDKA. “I guess I was meant to save another fellow ex-Marine, a young man.”