Conservation Officer Killed in Pennsylvania

David GroveI've been late posting on this incident in Pennsylvania. Someone mentioned it to me in passing at the New England Crime Bake mystery conference this weekend where, ironically, I was asked to speak about the challenge of writing realistic police procedurals.

Today, several readers of my book have sent me links to this breaking news story. The lede reads like something I actually wrote for The Poacher's Son:

It's a dangerous job. Along with checking hunting licenses, responding to nuisance deer complaints and disposing of road kill, wildlife conservation officers with the Pennsylvania Game Commission serve arrest warrants, confront armed trespassers and disarm wildlife poachers, sometimes while alone at night on remote country roads.

That's what Wildlife Conservation Officer David L. Grove was doing about 10:30 p.m. Thursday in a rural part of southcentral Pennsylvania when he was shot and killed by a suspected poacher. He was the first Game Commission official killed in the line of duty in 95 years.

A suspect has been arrested in the killing. Grove managed to shoot one of his assailants before he died. Due process means that convicted felon Christopher Lynn Johnson, 27, should be presumed innocent until he's convicted in a court of law, but police did find him hiding at a deer camp with a gunshot wound to the side. 

Beyond that, what can you say? The story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reads like it's quoting chapter and verse from my novel. It's a disturbing experience to feel prescient about something like this.

I offer my deepest condolences to Officer Grove's family, friends, and colleagues.