Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Middletown officer cleared in fatal shooting

Michael Devine's death was a case of "suicide by cop," county District Attorney David Heckler said.

Middletown officer cleared in fatal shooting


A Middletown Township police officer has been cleared in the fatal shooting of a knife-wielding man in what the Bucks County District Attorney called “a matter of suicide by cop.”

Michael Devine, 64, lured Patrolmen Joseph Schuck and Joseph Buckley to his home about 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 23 with a 911 burglary call, David Heckler said Wednesday. Wearing a hooded sweatshirt and brandishing a large carving knife, he approached the officers, yelling, “I’m going to kill you,” and ignoring orders “to get down on the ground,” Heckler said.

When Devine got within a few feet of Buckley, the officer shot him once in the hand and chest, Heckler said. The retired Neshaminy School District custodian died shortly after at St. Mary Medical Center.

County detectives investigated the case, and Heckler said he has notified the Middletown police chief of his finding that the shooting was justified.

After the shooting outside Devine’s home off West Lincoln Highway, relatives told police that he had been depressed and had been suffering from back pain, Heckler said. One son said he had removed a handgun from the house, where Devine lived alone, “because there was some concern that he might be suicidal,” the district attorney said.

One of Devine's sons is Bristol Borough Councilman Tony Devine, who also is a special-education teacher at Maple Point Middle School. Another son is Neshaminy boys' varsity basketball coach Jerry Devine.

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About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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