GETTYSBURG, Pa. -- A game warden was killed in a shootout with a suspected poacher, but the officer had called in the suspect's license plate before the gunfire, leading to an arrest, officials said Friday.
David Grove, a 31-year-old wildlife conservation officer from Fairfield, was fatally shot after he pulled over 27-year-old Christopher Lynn Johnson late Thursday night near Gettysburg, police said. Johnson was arrested at a hunting camp Friday morning, about 11 hours after the shooting, investigators said. Police said he had an apparent gunshot wound.
The license plate that Grove was able to call in "was a critical piece of information," said State Police Commissioner Col. Frank Pawlowski.
"That gave us somewhere to go," Pawlowski said.
Grove was the first game warden killed in the line of duty in 95 years.
Johnson was in police custody at a hospital awaiting arraignment. He faces charges including murder and fleeing apprehension as well as weapons and game offenses. Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner said he would likely seek the death penalty.
Grove was investigating reports of nighttime hunting when he pulled over Johnson and a passenger around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, investigators said. Gunfire broke out, and Johnson and the passenger fled.
Authorities said Johnson abandoned his vehicle at some point and was limping on foot when he flagged down a motorist and asked for help. The motorist took him to a hunting camp that Johnson knew about, and police were waiting when he arrived.
Police said a dead deer was found near where Grove was killed.
"This was a malicious act," Pennsylvania Game Commissioner spokesman Jerry Feaser told The Associated Press.
Commission executive director Carl Roe called Grove "a bright, young officer" dedicated to promoting Pennsylvania's hunting heritage.
"Our prayers and thoughts go out to WCO Grove's family and friends, as we mourn the loss of one of our own," he said.
The last game commission officer to be shot and killed in the line of duty was Joseph McHugh in Weatherly, Carbon County, on Nov. 7, 1915.