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State police exchange fire with Youngwood man

| Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, 6:57 p.m.
Travis Clinton Hensell

A state trooper fired his weapon on Saturday night at a Youngwood man who allegedly broke into his girlfriend's home and pointed a loaded shotgun at police, according to court documents.

No one was injured during the incident in Pine Garden Apartments on Route 981 in Loyalhanna Township.

Police said Travis Clinton Hensell, 40, and the 37-year-old woman argued earlier Saturday, and Hensell had threatened to commit suicide while the woman and her two children watched. He is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on $100,000 bail on attempted homicide and related charges.

It isn't the first time Hensell has been arrested on charges of breaking into a girlfriend's apartment. He pleaded guilty in 1998 to setting fire to a Latrobe duplex where a girlfriend lived in 1997, according to court records.

The Loyalhanna victim was on the phone with police about 9:30 p.m. Saturday to report a threatening text message she received from Hensell when the suspect allegedly broke a window and entered the apartment, according to an affidavit of probable cause. The woman and her 4- and 10-year-old children were able to flee safely, police said.

Troopers Nicholas Pelc and Paul Brown stood at the apartment's partially open door and ordered Hensell to surrender.

“Both troopers then heard Hensell say ‘I have a shotgun and shells, come on in and get me,' ” Trooper Owen Leonard wrote in the affidavit.

Hensell appeared in a hallway, pointing a 12-gauge shotgun at the two troopers,Leonard wrote. Pelc fired his rifle once in the suspect's direction and then, as both troopers exited the building, a shotgun blast was heard from inside the apartment, according to the affidavit.

Hensell later was taken into custody and was arraigned on Sunday morning by on-call District Judge Michael Mahady.

Hensell is charged with two counts each of attempted homicide and aggravated assault, five counts of simple assault, four counts of terroristic threats, three counts of reckless endangerment and single counts of burglary, criminal trespass and discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure.

A Feb. 3 preliminary hearing before District JudgeJason Buczak is scheduled.

On Oct. 9, 1997, Hensell set fire to a duplex where his then-22-year-old ex-girlfriend and her young son lived. Police said Hensell trashed the woman's apartment, and he was found walking along railroad tracks shortly after the blaze broke out. No one was injured.

Hensell was sentenced in November 1998 to serve one to two years in the Westmoreland County Prison and five years of probation, according to court records.

He was sentenced to three to six months on a drug paraphernalia possession charge in 2007.

Hensell was charged in two 2010 cases with simple assault and harassment in connection with incidents in Unity Township. The charges were either dismissed or withdrawn at preliminary hearings, according to online court records.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reachedat 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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