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Could deadly shooting of a Deputy US Marshal have been avoided?



Could last Thursday's shooting against Deputy US Marshal Christopher Hill have been avoided? Did law enforcement even need to be at Shayla Pierce's house?

New evidence suggests that law enforcement never should have been sent to Pierce's Allison Hill home in the first place.

Officers first arrived at Pierce's home to serve an arrest warrant on Pierce just after 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 18.

She was wanted by Harrisburg Police on charges of possession of an illegal weapon, simple assault and terroristic threats .

After police arrested Pierce at her home, they encountered Kevin Sturgis, a man who was also wanted for gun charges in Philadelphia.

A shootout ensured where Deputy US Marshal Hill and two other officers were shot. Sturgis was shot and killed.

According to court documents, Pierce appeared in the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas exactly two weeks before the deadly shootout with active warrants against her.

But instead of addressing the warrant when she was in court, transcripts say the judge told her to "have a nice life" and she was released.

"Listen, anytime that you hear there was a warrant that could have been served, that's an awful thing to learn," Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo said.

But that's what Dauphin County officials are now investigating one day after Circa's affiliate CBS21 News broke the story that Shayla Pierce appeared in court in the weeks leading up to last week's deadly shooting -- But was never arrested while she was in the courthouse.

Documents CBS21 News obtained from the Court of Common Pleas show not one, but two times, Pierce was in court with an active warrant for her arrest and was not arrested.

A transcript from January 4 says she appeared in court for misdemeanor charges from a different case. That case was dismissed and transcripts show the judge told Pierce "There will be no conviction. The case is dismissed. Have a nice life."

Pierce was released that day.

The felony terroristic threats charges against her for allegedly holding a gun to a woman's head and threatening to shoot her back in November 2017 were never brought up in court. Those charges are what police and US Marshals say led them to serve a warrant at Pierce's home last Thursday.

"People make appearances in the courthouse on tens of thousands of occasions and they check the warrants for county warrants and apparently, this warrant was not among those," DA Chardo said.

DA Chardo said because the warrant for Pierce came from the Magisterial District Court and not the county court, the Dauphin County Sheriff's Office did not check it.

The sheriff told CBS21 News on Tuesday they just do not have the manpower to check the warrants out of the district courts. But DA Chardo says they are already working on a solution.

We take this very, very seriously. We're reviewing the procedures. I've spoken to the sheriff and to the clerk of courts to see if there are improvements we can make in the system because we owe it to Chris to make sure that if there are improvements that can be made in the system to avoid a future tragedy, that we make them.
DA Chardo said

Right now, DA Chardo says those improvements will likely mean improving the computer system. No word on how long it would take to fix.

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