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Pennsylvania Shooting Update: Friend says alleged gunman was focused on end-of-the-world predictions

An ambulance leaves the scene of a shooting in Geeseytown, Pa. Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. A man fatally shot a woman decorating for a children's Christmas party at a tiny church hall and killed two men elsewhere in the rural central Pennsylvania township Friday before he was fatally shot in a gunfight with state police. (AP Photo/Altoona Mirror, J.D. Cavrich) J.D. Cavrich

An ambulance leaves the scene of a shooting in Geeseytown, Pa. on Dec. 21, 2012 where a gunman killed three people in central Pennsylvania
AP Photo/Altoona Mirror, J.D. Cavrich

(CBS/AP) HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. - A friend of a central Pennsylvania man who killed three people before dying in a gun battle with police on Dec. 21 says the shooter had been struggling with personal problems and had become fascinated with end-of-the-world predictions.

Bob Socie of Lakemont, a longtime friend of Jeffrey Lee Michael's, told The (Altoona) Mirror that Michael, 44, had struggled for years with stress from two accidents involving his tractor-trailer and a divorce and custody battle. Recently, he said, Michael was focused on apocalyptic predictions stemming from biblical prophecy and an ancient Mayan calendar.

Several hundred people packed the Geeseytown Evangelical Lutheran Church on Saturday night for a prayer service remembering 58-year-old Kimberly Scott of Duncansville; 60-year-old Kenneth Lynn, and his 38-year-old son-in-law William Rhodes Jr., killed Friday morning by  Michael

Michael killed 58-year-old Kimberly Scott as he entered Juniata Valley Gospel Church, State Police Sgt. Gregory Bernard said. Either shortly before or after that, Kenneth Lynn, 60, a neighbor of Michael's, was shot in the driveway of his home.

Bernard said Michael drove his pickup truck along rural Juniata Valley Road and intentionally rammed another pickup driven by Lynn's son-in-law, 38-year-old William Rhodes Jr. Police said Rhodes died of blunt force trauma from the crash and a gunshot wound.

Michael opened fire on two state police cars that were heading his way, police said. A trooper was injured in the face by flying glass from the windshield and possibly a graze from the bullet.

A third patrol car arrived and tried to block the path of the pickup, which rammed the car head-on and injured the trooper driving the vehicle, police said. One of the other patrol cars then rammed the back of the suspect's truck, and a gunfight with the first two troopers ensued. One was hit in the chest and wrist.

Michael was struck by police gunfire and was pronounced dead at the scene. The three troopers were treated at a hospital but are expected to be all right, authorities said.

The district attorney's office classified Michael's death as a justifiable homicide and said it would not pursue criminal charges against the troopers.

Police have not released information about the weapon or weapons used by Michael. Bernard said police had had some contact with Michael but declined to go into detail.

"We've had other incidents, but nothing to this extent," the sergeant said. Online court records show no criminal record for him in Pennsylvania or in the state's federal courts.

Complete coverage of Jeffrey Lee Michael on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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