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Game warden's slaying leaves family shaken

HARRISBURG -- The family of slain Pennsylvania game warden David L. Grove has been trying to make sense of his death in the line of duty and focusing on their positive memories, his brother said.

Chad M. Grove described his younger brother as outgoing and fun-loving, a devout Christian who took his job seriously and loved spending time outdoors.

Chad Grove said he has been remembering the good times they shared, but it pains him to think that the last person his brother saw was probably the man accused of shooting him, Christopher Lynn Johnson of Fairfield.

"I don't know him from Adam, but he's a part of our life now and will be forever," said Chad Grove, of Martinsburg, W.Va. "But honestly, I don't think about him very much. I think more about my brother, and you pull out the pictures and look at the good times and the fish we caught and the turkeys we killed and the deer we shot. You hold on to what you have."

Johnson, 27, has been charged with killing David Grove, 31, a Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officer, late Thursday in a rural area outside Gettysburg. Police said Johnson told them he shot Grove and that, as a felon, he did not want to go back to prison for gun possession.

Court documents said Johnson had been pulled over by Grove and was partially handcuffed when a gunfight took place in which he shot Grove four times with a .45-caliber handgun.

Johnson, who apparently was shot in the hip, was arrested the next morning at a hunting camp. He told investigators he shot off the handcuffs and threw the gun into the woods.

Chad, David and their sister Jennifer grew up in Franklin County, in the Mercersburg area, and then in State Line. Jennifer and their parents, Dana and Lucy Grove, live near Waynesboro.

Chad Grove said he was getting ready to go hunting early Friday when his father phoned.

"When you get that kind of news, it's kind of unreal," he said. "You just don't know what to do with all of it."

Telling his very young children that their uncle had died was painful, he said. The oldest is 4.

"They were just getting to the age that they could understand and know who he was," Chad Grove said. "He loved being around them. And you know, my kids loved him."

David Grove attended the Mt. Alto campus of Penn State University for two years, then finished up at State College.

"My brother was a Christian. He knew the Lord, and we do, too," Chad Grove said. "And we hold in the fact that God's in control, and he had a reason and a plan. Even though we don't understand everything, we understand that."

Chad Grove said his brother's viewing will be Friday in Grove-Bowersox Funeral Home in Waynesboro, and the family plans a Sunday funeral in Waynesboro Area High School. They have been told to expect more than 1,000 mourners.

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