MCKEESPORT, Pa. — A handcuffed man fired a gun police didn’t know he had out of a police vehicle hitting an officer three times before fleeing from a western Pennsylvania police station, police said.
Koby Lee Francis, 22, of McKeesport, had been arrested after allegedly violating a protection from abuse order before Sunday afternoon’s gunfire outside the McKeesport police station, Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said Monday. McKeesport is located near Pittsburgh.
Officer Gerasimos Athans, 32, had wounds that weren’t life-threatening and was expected to be discharged from the hospital in the next few days, McDonough said. Police are searching for Francis and said he should be considered armed and dangerous.
Francis had been served Sunday with the protection from abuse order but is accused of having quickly violated it twice, police said. He was arrested and a pistol was found in his vehicle. Francis was described as combative and police initially said he kicked through a window of a police vehicle window. On Monday, police said that earlier report was mistaken and he did not kick out the window.
On a video released by police, the officer is seen opening the passenger side door of the police vehicle parked outside the station and then staggering back after police said he took fire from within the vehicle. The video shows Frances then emerges from the vehicle with hands handcuffed in front of him and fires at the officer before fleeing.
McDonough said Francis “was searched, obviously” when he was arrested but “was able to secret a weapon and that was the weapon he used … to shoot (the officer).” Video confirmed that he had been handcuffed with his hands in back of him, but he somehow managed to get his hands in front of him before his escape, McDonough said.
After he was shot, the officer “emptied his weapon” in returning fire, but there was no evidence Francis was hit, McDonough said.
Francis was being sought on attempted homicide, escape, flight to avoid apprehension, aggravated assault and firearms charges. McDonough called the search for the fugitive, both locally and anywhere he might have fled, an “all hands on deck” effort that needed help from the community.
“Obviously this was an egregious act on his part,” McDonough said. “He went to this address in violation of a (protection from abuse order). He went there angry. He went there armed. I think that it’s in the community’s interest to help us to bring him in.”
As for the officer, who has been on the force for four years, McDonough said, “We’re very happy that he’s going to be able to spend Christmas with his family rather than what could have been a very tragic event.”