police tape

A Bedford man shot by state troopers in April after allegedly threatening to kill them while brandishing a 12-inch knife died Wednesday.

James R. Best, 45, died at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, about three weeks after he was shot inside an East Pitt Street apartment building on April 27, according to state police. An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday.

Best had been facing attempted homicide charges, as well as attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and six counts of aggravated assault.

Cpl. Ryan French of the state police wrote in the criminal complaint filed against Best that troopers received a report of domestic disturbance about 4:40 p.m. April 27 at 507 East Pitt St.

A woman involved in the altercation told police that Best allegedly threatened to burn down her house as well as kill any police officers who responded to his apartment, according to court documents.

Troopers responded to the apartment building, which includes three units, and observed Best brandishing a knife with an about 12-inch blade through a rear apartment window, according to court documents.

French wrote in the affidavit that Best refused to follow police orders to exit the apartment and to allow troopers to enter. Best allegedly told troopers he would kill them if they entered, according to court documents.

Troopers used force to enter the apartment through a rear window in order to arrest Best “pursuant to statutory guidelines regarding domestic violence incidents” and to ensure the protection of other tenants in the apartment building, French said.

Best was not immediately located when police entered the apartment. Troopers continued the search to the common areas of the building. On the second floor landing of the building, Best appeared from hiding and approached troopers while brandishing the knife, documents said.

Verbal commands were issued to Best to drop the knife, but Best allegedly ignored the commands and continued toward the troopers.

Two troopers fired their pistols, striking Best, according to state police. Troopers then rendered aid to Best until EMS crews arrived on scene.

Best was flown by medical helicopter to a hospital with gunshot wounds to the chest, according to 911 dispatch transmissions.

The troopers who fired their weapons were not identified in the criminal complaint or in a news release. Both of the involved troopers were placed on administrative duties, as per department protocol.

The investigation is being conducted by the Pennsylvania State Police Troop G Major Case Team in conjunction with the Bedford County District Attorney’s Office.

Contact Will DeShong at wdeshong@bedfordgazette.com; 623-1151, ext. 150.

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