Family of man accused of shooting St. Clair officer say allegations don't fit his character
Those closest to Ray Shetler said his alleged actions are out of character.
Kristin Luther, his girlfriend, said she thinks he acted in self-defense after Officer Lloyd Reed Jr. drew his weapon as Shetler left her Ligonier Street house with his hunting rifle.
State police said they will release more information about the shooting during a news conference Monday.
Luther told the Tribune-Review on Sunday that Shetler had been drinking Saturday night. He fell asleep, and when she woke him up, the couple started to argue.
She said Shetler had never been violent toward her, but during that fight, he struck her in her face with his hat. Shetler was yelling and slamming things, so Luther told him to get out or she would call the police, she said.
“This went on for an hour, and I had to call the cops because I just wanted him to leave,” Luther said.
Reed arrived just as Shetler walked outside to his vehicle with a deer rifle slung over his shoulder, she said. He had the rifle — which she said was pointed downward — because he planned to go hunting Monday.
When the officer shouted at Shetler to drop the rifle, Shetler “took a step forward,” and the officer opened fire.
“The gun was over his shoulder,” said a tearful Luther. “He didn't even have the gun up. He didn't point it at the officer. The gun was on his side.”
Luther said she counted seven gunshots as Shetler ran from the officer.
“I'm screaming at the officer, ‘Stop, you are going to kill him!' and he didn't,” Luther said.
She said she believes Shetler returned fire because he feared for his life.
“Ray took off running down the road,” Luther said. “The officer was shooting, and Ray shot back. This is so not like him. The officer shouldn't have shot at him.”
Luther said she blames herself for the officer's death.
“I feel like it's my fault,” she said. “An officer's dead, and Ray is going to go to jail for the rest of his life. The officer took it so far. All I wanted was for them to take Ray out of the house so he wouldn't break anything because he was mad.”
Shetler's mother, Lorie Porter of Saltsburg in Indiana County, said she was shocked by the news of the shooting.
“My son would not just do this,” she said. “He is not that type of person.”
According to court records, Shetler served two years' probation for a simple assault arrest in 2005. He received a year of probation in 2014 for charges of harassment and simple assault.
Last month, Shetler was sentenced to two years' probation after pleading guilty to reckless endangerment.
Porter, 51, said she is trying to learn more details about the shooting.
“It's a tragedy, and none of us can believe it,” she said. “He's a very good, loving kid who would do anything in the world for anyone.”
Shetler's aunt, Wendy Kenley of New Florence, said she went to Luther's house as soon as she heard about the shooting. When she arrived, Luther was on the ground trying to assist the fallen officer.
“I heard (Shetler's) girlfriend saying, ‘Breathe,' ” Kenley said. “I thought something was wrong with Ray. I walked over and saw the cop, and that's how I found out.”
Porter and Kenley extended their condolences to Reed's family, even as they tried to piece together the circumstances that led to the shooting.
“I'm very sorry for their loss,” Porter said.