Police: Third Street homicide started as robbery

PHILIP A. HOLMES/Sun-Gazette Court documents that became public on Monday reported, among other things, that after pulling into Sheetz on Route 220 in Woodward Township last week, gunman Paul Heath, 27, pulled out two handguns and began firing at police officers who were pursuing him.

The shooting death of 33-year-old Shawn Graham inside his house at 2225 W. Third St. last week appears to have been the result of a home invasion and robbery, according to an affidavit city police filed with a search warrant that was made public Monday.

Also, an affidavit filed with a second search warrant revealed that the gunman seen fleeing Graham’s home on Nov. 7 in a Dodge Charger, Paul Heath, fired multiple times at city Patrolman Nicholas Carrita, who stopped the car in the 1500 block of West Third Street.

Among evidence found in the eastbound lane were “seven spent shell casings” that are believed to have come from a firearm Heath fired at the officer.

Police have declined to comment on whether the officer was able to fire back.

Carrita, 24, suffered a single gunshot wound to the right arm and is recovering at home after spending a night at the UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport Regional Medical Center.

After wounding Carrita, Heath, 27, of Philadelphia, took state police and county sheriff deputies on an extensive high-speed chase, traveling on Route 220 to Jersey Shore and then back toward Williamsport before he pulled into Sheetz in Woodward Township.

Heath fired “several times” at a trooper’s cruiser in the area of Route 287 in Piatt Township, court documents stated. The trooper returned fire.

As Heath turned south on Pine Run Road, he swerved toward another trooper’s cruiser. The trooper fired “several times” at the car before Heath pulled into Sheetz.

Heath then got out of the car, a rental vehicle from Philadelphia, and began firing not one, but two handguns at the pursuing troopers and deputies, court documents state.

Customers, either pumping gas or inside the store itself, dove for cover while at the same time police officers converged on the premises and returned fire, police said in the affidavit.

During the final moments of the gun battle, Heath “put one of the firearms up to his head and killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” a trooper wrote in the affidavit.

City police believe Heath and a second black man, whose identity and whereabouts were unknown, forced their way into Graham’s home through the front door and tied up Graham and a second resident.

The second resident told police she ran to the kitchen and attempted to call 911 when she suddenly “heard a gunshot at the front door,” according to the affidavit.

The woman said one of the intruders “grabbed her from the kitchen and bound her and Graham,” police were told. One man momentarily went upstairs while the second stayed on the first floor before the two were last seen fleeing out the back door.

While the invasion was still going on, an unidentified person in the house texted a nearby male acquaintance “Come over now, someone has a gun,” police said.

The acquaintance bolted to the scene and saw through a window someone tying up Graham with duct tape, police said. The man tried to open the front door, but it was slammed shut and locked.

After he managed to finally get in the home, the man attempted to untie Graham, but “then noticed that he appeared to have been shot,” police said. The man then ran out of the house and called 911.

When officers arrived at the home, they found Graham dead “in an open doorway at the house with an apparent gunshot wound to the abdomen,” police said.

The woman who was tied up told investigators that “robbery may have been the motive for home invasion,” according to the affidavit. “Several hundred dollars” was stolen from the house, court documents stated.

It is believed the second suspect in the robbery fled on foot because Heath was alone in the car, police said.

As the search for the second suspect is ongoing, city police also are reaching out daily to Carrita during his recovery.

“Officers are on the phone with him, talking to him every day, making sure he’s getting what he needs,” city Police Chief David Young said Monday after having lunch with the officer.

“He has received hundreds of cards, food has been delivered to his house. He told me the support from the community has actually been ‘overwhelming,’ “ Young said of Carrita, who has been on the force less than two years.

Young said Carrita was very appreciative of all the support.

There is no telling when the officer will be able to return to duty. “That will be all up to the doctor,” Young said.

“His arm is in a sling. He doesn’t yet have full mobility. We’re waiting for the swelling to go down. However, he’s doing well. He’s in very good spirits.”