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Somerset man suspected in threatening ex-girlfriend commits suicide during pursuit by state police

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Monday, April 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Somerset County man who allegedly brandished a firearm during a dispute with an ex-girlfriend committed suicide Saturday as he fled pursuing state police.

Randy Mel Kearns, 49, of Somerset Pike, Sipesville, died as a result of the 7:47 p.m. incident in the Jenner Township community of Acosta, according to a news release.

Trooper Joel D. Penatzer said Kearns was involved in a domestic dispute with the unnamed woman and fled after police were contacted.

Responding officers observed Kearns' vehicle and attempted to stop him, resulting in a pursuit.

“The pursuit ended when Kearns pulled into a parking lot in the Acosta area, retrieved a firearm from the rear seat, placed it under his chin and fired one round, which resulted in his immediate death,” Penatzer stated in the release.

Reached at the Somerset barracks on Sunday, Penatzer declined to elaborate on the incident or Kearns' history with law enforcement.

According to court records, state police charged Kearns on March 26 with simple assault, reckless endangerment, harassment, criminal mischief and criminal trespass in an incident in Somerset County's Lincoln Township.

Kearns was arraigned on that date before District Judge Douglas Bell and freed on $1,000 unsecured bond.

He faced a preliminary hearing before District Judge Kenneth Johnson on those charges on Tuesday.

Court records show he was being represented by the county public defender's office.

In 2007, Kearns was sentenced by Judge John Cascio to serve two years' probation, after a guilty plea to a charge of simple assault. That judgment was satisfied in 2009, court records show.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or

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