Bethlehem Township, PA – A man fed up with the coronavirus pandemic got into a wild shootout with Pennsylvania police on Saturday.
It all began at about 11:23 a.m. on July 31 when 35-year-old Adam Michael Zaborowski went into a cigar store on Nazareth Pike, the Bethlehem Township Police explained in a post to its official Facebook page.
Staff told Zaborowski that he had to put on a mask to shop inside the store, per state law, or they would be happy to provide him with curbside service.
But Zaborowski got mad and took two cigars off a shelf and left the store without stopping to pay for them, according to the Facebook post.
Police said a store employee followed the shoplifter out of the store and into the parking lot and called for him to return the cigars.
That’s when police said Zaborowski turned around and pulled out a semiautomatic pistol.
Police said the suspect fired one shot in the air and then two shots at the employee, but nobody was struck by gunfire.
Zaborowski fled in a blue Dodge pickup truck.
Police identified the gunman and said he was subsequently charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery, reckless endangerment, and persons prohibited to possess a firearm.
At about 9:35 p.m. on Aug. 1, a warrant was issued for Zaborowski’s arrest and Pennsylvania state troopers and a Slatington Borough police officer tried to stop him in Lehigh County, according to a press release from the Pennsylvania State Police.
As soon as Zaborowski stopped his truck, he jumped out and began firing his gun at seven law enforcement officers.
Police said the gunman opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle and a semi-automatic handgun, Lehigh Valley Live reported.
He hit a Slatington Borough police vehicle but not any of the law enforcement officers, according to the state police press release.
The officer and the troopers returned fire and Zaborowski was shot.
They performed first aid on the suspect until EMS arrived, according to the press release.
Police said Zaborowski was transported to the airport by ambulance and then airlifted to St. Luke’s Fountain Hill.
None of the troopers were hurt during the incident, but a Slatington Borough police officer sustained a minor injury, according to the state police.
An attorney for Zaborowski told Lehigh Valley Live that the gunman’s father said his son had recently lost his job and a custody battle for his kid, and “was just not handling the pandemic well.”
Defense attorney John Waldron said his client was in the hospital recovering from gunshot wounds to his buttocks and leg.
“He just wasn’t dealing well with the loss of his job, the loss of his child, just not handling the pandemic well,” Waldron said. “I think he was getting stretched too tight.”
Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin said Zaborowski put seven officers in harm’s way during the shootout regardless of the reasoning, Lehigh Valley Live reported.
“It doesn’t excuse his conduct,” Martin said.
The defense attorney admitted that his client was lucky to survive the gunfight with police, Lehigh Valley Live reported.
“They’re not shooting at your foot. They’re not shooting at your buttocks,” Waldron said. “It’s kill or be killed. So the fact that he got shot twice with non-life-threatening injuries when he had an AK-47 and another handgun, Adam is very fortunate he ended up the way he did.”
Online records showed that Zaborowski was arraigned from his hospital bed on Aug. 1, Lehigh Valley Live reported.
He is facing 22 charges in connection with the gun battle in Slatington, in addition to the charges in Bethlehem Township.
Police said Zaborowski was charged with seven counts of attempted homicide, seven counts of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, seven counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and one count of possession of a gun despite a felony, Lehigh Valley Live reported.
Zaborowski can’t have a handgun after a prior aggravated assault conviction.
Waldron said it wasn’t the first time he had represented this particular client, Lehigh Valley Live reported.
“I know his dad. I know his mom. I know Adam,” the attorney said. “From what I hear with these allegations, this is not his typical behavior pattern.”