Man Shot Dead After Standoff With Police in Potter Brook, Tioga County Last Night

81-year-old man dead after shootout with State Police and SERT

POTTER BROOK, Westfield Township – A Tioga County man is dead as the result of a shootout with State Police and a State Police Emergency Response Team (SERT) last night in Potter Brook, a small town between Ulysses and Westfield in Pennsylvania.

State Police responded to the home of 81-year-old James Pizzinato on Route 49 in the Village of Potter Brook to a serve a Mental Health Warrant, when Pizzinato answered the door with a revolver in hand.

According to reports, Pizzinato began waving the revolver at officers, who then retreated to their vehicles and called in the State Police Emergency Response Team (SERT). After arriving on scene, State Police and SERT established a perimeter around the man’s home, and began negotiating with him.

After some time, Pizzinato exited his home and began firing at officers, who returned fire, killing him.

Route 49 was shutdown until early this morning. Neighbors report that the man was terminally ill with Leukemia and had only weeks to live.

The Tioga County District Attorney’s office and the PA State Police have launched a full investigation into the incident.


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27 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    In negotiation with man why wasn’t the relatives or friends asked to talk to him and eleviate the tensions created by all the PSP and other attack personel. A peaceful solution could have been gotten and no one hurt….The man was 81 yrs old and dying of leukemia and had weeks to live. Where are these so called professionals now? While a grieving family gets to bury their beloved father, brother and uncle…Uncalled for and so unnecessary action by PA’s finest!!!!!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I can only imagine…………. something needs to be done about the State “police” around here! How is it suddenly ok to kill people? This is the third time in a short amount of time.

  3. Anonymous says:

    With the emotions of this latest incident still striking nerves, I offer an explanation for the police action. Protocol must be in place to handle this type of incident, whether it be an old man or young person. Threats of violence from an armed, emotionally unstable person are not to be taken lightly. All precaution should be taken when police respond to an incident for the safety of the officers, the family and the general public. Prolonging an incident through unproductive negotiations is not part of the protocol, however, in many instances, requests for family members and clergy are allowed to bring about a peaceful end if possible. It is difficult for friends and family to understand that without question, this is a dangerous situation for all. And, of course, there is the ‘suicide by police’ incident that happens quite frequently. Please do not be blameful of the police for doing their duty to protect the family, friends and general public. Taking the life of another person is emotional for the police as well, they are human beings too.

  4. JAC says:

    I’m not sure what the other incidents are that were mentioned but the PSP is trying to protect other citizens. Social workers were there trying to talk with the man. It is what it is.

  5. Anonymous says:

    JAC- it is what it is, but it is still stinks!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    The ‘other incident’ is that a young man was also shot by this same SERT team just miles from this not that long ago.

  7. me myself and my opinion says:

    Well what do you expect to happen when you start shooting at the police? I know if i starting shooting at them i expect to be shot back… Im sure after this happening that there was a reason for the mental health warrant… Regardless of his age or health condition, the man got what any other man would get in an act of stupidity..

  8. Anonymous says:

    This man is crazy has been crazy maybe always was crazy. The police did their jobs if he came out shooting what are they supposed to do surrender and risk their lives or others? Some people are never happy. Had the police not protected themselves and all around there and the crazy man shot someone then people would rant the police are worthless and lazy and don’t do their jobs. I am thankful and have great respect for our police, firemen, paramedics etc especially in this rural area where most are well underpaid of paid at all.

  9. Kudos to the fatal Scope says:

    Yes the cops did their job, yes they did what needed to be done for an incident so severe. However to kill an elderly that apparently was mentally ill is not a job for them. Tazers are used now-a-days, shotguns with bean bags in them are used, shotguns with pepper spray are used, flash grenades are used to subdue. A guy 81 years of age could have been subdued very easily without any fatalities. Sert Officers are trained for accuracy, why could they not aim in a non fatal area to subdue him? Negotiations seem to never work, but there is multiple ways to end a standoff without fatalities. Like others have mentioned there has been 3 other Police standoffs near this area all resulting in the gunmen shot dead by a Sert Officer. Will this one be justified too? Or will someone finally say the Pennsylvania State Police are starting to over step their Protocals?

  10. Anonymous says:

    “When they knocked on the door, the troopers say Pizzinato answered the door with a revolver in his hand, waving it in the direction of the officers”

    I guess the question is why they did not disarm him at the door at the initial point of contact, if they could at all, nobody knows & I guess nobody else was there I suppose.

  11. Lee Anne says:

    It sounds to me that the man was committing suicide by police. As to why the police did not disarm the man, I would not want an officer to place his life in jeopardy by trying to grab a gun out of the man’s hand. It is NOT TV. You MIGHT be able to grab the gun but then it might go off killing you or the man holding the gun. They did the right thing. That man not only ended up ending his own life but also has caused those officers to have that memory their whole lives. It is a horrible thing to have to be involved in a situation of that kind. Don’t second guess the situation when you have never been there.

  12. John says:

    were any of the ” ANONYMOUS” people blasting the police on this thread actually theree to see how the situation transpired? It is sad that he was shot dead, it is a tragedy, but if it happened, it happened for a reason. We empower law enforcement to protect the public then get angry when they exercise that power in the way they deem best to handle the situation. Seriously, you can sit there and speculate on the use of non deadly force, or the procedures the used, but if that same elderly man had gotten away and broke into a young families house and murdered a newborn, you all would be singing a much different tune. Stop slamming the people we place in a difficult position for there decisions on how to deal properly with these situations because honestly none of us were there and we don’t know all the details on EXACTLY how it went down. ( I do apologize for the nature of this Post to any of the family members of the victim, i don’t mean to say that he would have actually done the aforementioned crime, just trying to hit the opposite end of the spectrum for the naysayers )

  13. Ray says:

    WOW…..John seriously, your post is full of speculation and innuendo. I just love how the pot calls the kettle black! I only see one post “slamming” the police, so really I think your just a troll.

    Police officers are public servants and sometimes we question their actions, we as citizens have that right! They are not 100 % right.

    As for everyone else here, you can all speculate if you like, full details of the incident have not been given yet. The Tioga County, Pa., District Attorney’s Office and Pennsylvania State Police are investigating the incident.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This 81 year old man was a Veteran which had many “issues” from being in the war and dealing with what he may have seen, did, or even heard. Before all of this happened we would have praised him for fighting for our country, sure he may have been “crazy” but we accepted that because he was a Veteran and some could never know what he felt inside. Some just stayed away and some tried to help him with his issues and feelings, but I am sure that he never really felt right. From what it is being said he was afraid of what might be outside or trying to get into his home. Several milk jugs were tied up around his house (his own type of security) and pine trees planted to block out noisey neighbors. Also, several security cameras within the home and more outside. To me that sounds like a scared elderly man that was trying to protect himself. To be honest when I heard of the news of the standoff I was scared to death, nobody knew anything…. just that there was a man in Potterbrook with a gun. Later the public finds out that the “gunman” is the man with all the milk jugs surrounding his house, we all automatically thought “he just finally snapped”. Knowing nothing else last evening and seeing all the police and SERT vehicles go past with their lights flashing is a VERY scary feeling. Automatically you want the police to just “get” the man and it just all be over with. The public waited hours not knowing what was going on. Then this morning we all find out he was shot and killed, AFTER the SERT tried to negociate with him and after being shot at themselves. Yes I’ll admit I sighed with relief… until later finding out that he had been told he had only a few weeks left to live and him telling everyone “he just wanted to die in his own way”, this brought tears to my eyes. This 81 year Veteran had lived through the war, but was diagnoised with a deadly disease amd I believe he was just ready to die… whether he was trying to commit suicide or trying for police suicide we may never know, but yet the “crazy” Veteran in Potterbrook is now gone and some may feel more at ease, my thoughts and prayers are with this man’s family and friends and I pray that he is finally at peace. I thank the SERT, Local Police, State Police and Local Fireman for their stregth and courage it took to protect this community from an armed and mentally unstabble citizen. Some may think that this situation was maybe taken too far, but unless you were those SERT officers at the other end of this mans barrel you should not judge what is right or wrong. These officers are professionally trained for these types of situations and they know what they are to suppose to do. SO I may stand alone when I say “thank you” to the officers that put this man’s life at peace and community at ease, but now when I see the SERT lights flash past my house I know that this community is truely protected.

  15. Anonymously says:

    Why are the local PA State Police and District Attorney doing the follow-up investigation? They are the ones that were involved in the incident, and by law should not be the ones doing the follow-up. The investigation and findings can and will become speculative at best; friends protecting friends. How will we ever be doing more than speculation when we believe the supposedly mentally ill man actually shot at the police? That in itself is speculation, with information provided by those involved in the incident. We do have the right to have it investigated by an outside source, and it should be done so.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Ok this is my thought on the Cops walking up to the mans door to issue the Mental Health Warrant. They carry a can of pepper spray, and with a close enough encounter like they had they could have subdued the elderly man at that point just with pepper spray. First initial thing that would have happened to the elderly was he would have broke out in tears as the pepper spray burned dropping the Revolver he was waving around. Now the argument here from the otherside would be well he could of shot off stray bullets hitting others in the way. Ok now heres my argument. Them so called traineed special SERT Officers just as easily sent off a strasy bullet endangering others around too. Because as most you who commented saying they are so trained in their job that they are at precise accuracy, who could say if one of their bullets may have ricocheted off and shot johnny little 4 year old next door, killing him. Like the last poster said it is all speculation, and people will keep at that level as people protect the ones who are suppose to protect us as citizens. Sounds a little off too me as their job is to Protect and serve, not for citizens to do their jobs better then them.

  17. Fink says:

    The police in this area a bunch of idiots tring to be super cops when they can’t even think without shooting someone. What a huge bunch of hero’s they are, such people should be in jail for the crsp they pull.

  18. Accountability is a necessity says:

    We do have the right to see the camera footage (if true he had some)this so called mentally ill “VETERAN” had set up; maybe he had captured evidence that could be found in an ethical approach of calling in professionals not involved and unrelated to the PSP to do a proper and ethical investigation of the incident. There is already a discrepency in the times neighbors reported hearing shits at 11:30, and the http://www.WETMnews.com reported that police offered to times of shooting at 12:30 AM. It does cause some concern.
    If true that this same or similar situations has become common in this area, it could result in families coming together, calling and submitting formal complaints to the PSP commissioners office and whatever means other to make police accountable.
    We are all human, we all make mistakes, get frustrated and have small discriminations and ignorences. But few people in general have a true understanding of mental illness, which seems to be a possibility here. Very few diagnosed with mental illness have as severe problems as the media reflects and ignorences comment about.
    With due respect of the duty and jobs of law enforcement, accountability is a must… I agree that a true unrelated investigation should be done, especially if there has been several cases similar. Were all of these cases related to what someone would call mentally ill or another personal trait that was seen in this so called crazy veteran? By personal trait, I mean were the other incidents involving citizens that could be considered unintimidated by people, threats,or being of strong willed, headstrong individuals, considered by some as crazy, etc.

  19. Anonymous says:

    At that point in time, standing in the yard & shooting at police, there was little else that could be done.

    I guess I question the wisdom of the strategy to serve the warrant at his home in that manner.

    You have an elderly war veteran living in the middle of nowhere, Potter County. The likely hood of firearms in his house is going to be high.

    Your serving a “mental Health” warrant, signed by a hopefully well intentioned person, to a man with security cameras outside and a “security” system made up milk jugs. Whether, textbook paranoid or not, it’s obvious that he believes his property is his to protect and others should stay off of it. Any breach of his perimeter, lawful or not would likely agitate him.

    The person, who signed the warrant, may have been trying to help him and had personal contact with him. After unsuccessful attempts to help him they may have told him that they were going to sign the warrant, thus tipping him off.

    Knowing a mental health warrant was coming, which typically means removal from his house, his castle, he would not go quietly.

    Diagnosed with leukemia and only having weeks to live would likely cause depression and anxiety removing any aspect of caring what happens to him, further adding an unknown wildcard aspect of how he is going to react.

    Yes, it’s all speculation, arm chair quarterbacking and little facts are known, I admit.

    It just appears, in my opinion, that maybe little more homework, surveillance & strategy could have gone into it.

    Crazy or just another potter county eccentric, I don’t know, but it could be you or me someday.

  20. Anonymous says:

    They probably should consider taping the serving of high risk warrants, as they do some swat raids.

  21. Accountability is a necessity says:

    I so agree it does seem only logical explinations in appropriately researching a matter prior to an impulsive reaction from law enforcement and referal services as well as the technologys at their finger tips to aide them. Efficiency and logical problem solving could have been employed in this situation.

  22. No Name says:

    They obviously knew about his mental illness! So why just surprise him like that? Just another slap on the hands of state troopers, and another ad in the news paper! Seriously!!!

  23. no name says:

    I am surprised everyday of the stupidity of people in this country. Now I know on the shows you watch on t.v. that the cops would have kicked the gun out of his hand and saved the day. This guy had a mental illness and was apparently unstable. At some point during this standoff he decided he was not going with the police and chose to shoot it out. It is tragic but the police did not create this situation. For anyone to think that these cops wanted this result is just plain stupid. I don’t blame anyone for this incident except for the deceased. In the real world bad things happen. This man apparently was on a collision course that did not start when they knocked on his door. But, no matter what I say SOME people will always hate the police. I liken that to the Taliban hating America. What’s new and who cares!?!

  24. GrannyRosie says:

    As an older person living with a diagnosis of Leukemia I can relate to the gentleman. Perhaps in his distraught condition he knew darned well what actions he could take to have a quick death rather than suffering from the torments of dying with Leukemia. Has anyone thought of that? Just sayin’

    • Some1cares says:

      GrannyRosie please search Google and find a movie called “Run From The Cure”. Leukemia is curable. I personally know a man who went through rounds and rounds of chemo before the Doctors told him there was nothing else they could do and he only had a couple months to live. Cannabis Oil saved his life. Now 5 years later he is still healthy at 83 yrs old.

    • GrannyRosie says:

      It depends on what kind of Leukemia it is. Presently, certain ones are curable with bone marrow donation. Mine is “controlled” with a drug that corrects the morphed chromosomes that cause the Leukemia. Cannabis is wonderful stuff but it is not a cure all for all diseases. All cancers are not the same. I’m very happy with the complete remission I have. My point was that at his age, and with the diagnosis and possible lack of understanding of his outcome, perhaps that’s what drove him to the point to get the cops to do the job.

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