Friday, August 22, 2014
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Barricaded police officer planned suicide by cop, authorities say

Richard Klementovich was upset about work when he reported a civi dispute that drew police to the empty house of his ex-wife and children. He was "ready to die," he said in a note.

Barricaded police officer planned suicide by cop, authorities say

The New Jersey police officer who shot at fellow officers and locked down his former Bucks County neighborhood for 10 hours Sunday was trying to commit “suicide by cop,” according to court documents and authorities.

“Tell the police I have a surprise for them, this is the way I want to die,” Richard Klementovich texted to his parents during his 10-hour standoff at his ex-wife’s house in Doylestown Township, according to court documents released Monday.

“I get angry. Angry at this job and law enforcement,” Klementovich wrote in e-mail to his ex-wife, Jill Major, according to court documents. “And it’s them who I will take out my anger on. They will do the job I couldn’t and take my life.”

Klementovich, a 42-year-old Army veteran, ultimately surrendered and was charged with 85 counts of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, assault on police officers and possessing an  instrument of crime.

He was being held Monday on $1 million bail, with the condition that he undergo a mental-health assessment before being released.

“He was having a bad time psychologically,” Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said. “There  was some mention that he was on disability at work” with the Clifton, N.J., Police Deparment. “There was mention that medication was involved.”

Clifton officers declined to talk about Klementovich. They did say he had been on a short, non-work-related period of time-off, but not disability,

Klementovich, in the e-mail to his ex-wife, said he was taking steroids, according to court documents. He apologized to her for his shortcomings.

The couple, who has two children, went through a bitter divorce, authorities said, with Klementovich moving out of the stately two-story brick house on Bittersweet Drive. But on Fathers’ Day, he arranged a family get-together elsewhere, returned to the empty house and reported a “civil dispute” to police, authorities said.

When police arrived, they found a note in the driveway saying Klementovich was armed with “scoped rifles, 200 rounds of ammunition, he was law enforcement and that he was ready to die,” according to court documents.

As Officer Shaun Magee told neighbors to evacuate the area, other officers and their police cars were shot at, with one officer suffering a minor wound from shrapnel, police said.

Monday, neighbors in the of Doylestown Lea development strolled the sidewalks and clustered in front yards, swapping stories as they came to grips with their ordeal.

"We weren't sure whether he was out and about in the the neighborhood or confined to his house," said Lisa Gervais, who hunkered down in her house with her husband and 14-year-old son for 10 hours.

"We kept hearing gunfire -- first I thought it was fireworks," Gervais said. "At 5 o'clock, we heard six shots." Then police called and said Klementovich was in his house, "and we were calmer after that,"

The family went to bed at 11 p.m., with police still stationed outside Klementovich's former house. Gervais knew it was over a short time later, "because I heard cars going by on the street.

"In this development, you could hear a pin drop from 2 p.m. to midnight."

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 cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org 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 bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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