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Hero Down: Brackenridge Police Chief Justin McIntire Murdered While Trying To Apprehend Fugitive

Brackenridge, PA – Brackenridge Police Department (BPD) Chief Justin McIntire was murdered in the line of duty on Monday while trying to apprehend a fleeing felon wanted for a weapons-related probation violation, according to investigators.

Officials said the series of events leading to the shootings began the night of Jan. 1 near Cheswick, when Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) troopers attempted to stop a vehicle being driven by 28-year-old Aaron Lamont Swan, CBS News reported.

Swan allegedly fled the stop and police didn’t spot his vehicle again until the following morning.

Officers in Harrison Township recovered the vehicle, but Swan had fled on foot, CBS News reported.

Allegheny County Police Superintendent Christopher Kearns said police located Swan near the border of Brackenridge and Tarentum at approximately 2 p.m., WTAE reported.

Swan evaded capture yet again, resulting in a search of the vicinity that stretched on for more than two hours.

A BPD officer flushed the suspect out in the 800-block of Third Street at approximately 4:15 p.m., at which point the suspect shot him in the head, Superintendent Kearns said.

The officer was later identified as 46-year-old Chief McIntire, according to WTAE.

The suspect fled on foot for several blocks before encountering a Tarentum police officer on Brackenridge Avenue, several blocks away from the scene of the first shooting, WTAE reported.

Swan allegedly shot that officer in the leg, according to police.

The wounded hero was rushed to a local hospital and has since been listed in stable condition, according to WTAE.

The injured officer’s identity was not immediately released.

Allegheny County Police Assistant Superintendent Victor Joseph said Swan proceeded to carjack a 2014 Subaru Legacy and took off to Pittsburgh, the New York Times reported.

The victims of the carjacking were not physically injured, according to CBS News.

Police saw the stolen vehicle in the Lincoln-Lemington neighborhood later that night, resulting in another chase, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

Swan crashed and ultimately ran off into a wooded area at around 7 p.m. and began shooting at police, according to WTAE.

Officers returned fire near the intersection of Mohler Street and Brushton Avenue, killing the gunman.

Swan had a violent criminal history, to include having shot an East Liberty K-9 officer in 2014 after he was stopped for carrying a firearm, CBS News reported.

He was sentenced to three years in prison for that incident.

He was convicted of armed robbery and inflicting serious bodily injury on another person in 2017, landing him another three-year prison sentence, according to CBS News.

Swan pleaded guilty to a drug sales charge in 2019 and was given a one-year prison sentence for that offense.

He was on probation at the time of the shootings on Monday, CBS News reported.

Chief McIntire was the leader of the BPD’s four-member agency, according to the news outlet.

“The small towns that dot the map of Allegheny County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have special relationships with their police departments,” the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post on Monday night.

“In many of these boroughs and townships, the police department may only consist of a chief and a handful of officers,” the post read. “Such is the case in Brackenridge and that is why the senseless death of Brackenridge Chief Justin McIntire earlier today will reach into and tear at the very soul of the small piece of our county that hugs the bank of the Allegheny.”

The ACSO noted Chief McIntire had devoted his life to serving others.

“That service and dedication led to him sacrificing himself earlier today in an effort to make sure that his Brackenridge family was not put in harm’s way. That is what police officers do,” the sheriff’s office said.

Chief McIntire took over at the helm of the BPD in late 2018 after rising up the ranks, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

“(He) loved his job, loved his community,” Pioneer Hose Fire Police Captain Dave Miller told the paper.

Pennsylvania Governor-elect Josh Shapiro said in a statement that Chief McIntire sacrificed himself to save others.

“Today’s tragedy in Brackenridge is a devastating reminder of the bravery of those who put their lives on the line every day to protect us,” Shapiro wrote. “Police Chief Justin McIntire ran towards danger to keep Pennsylvanians safe — and he made the ultimate sacrifice in service to community.”

“Chief McIntire and his family are in my prayers, as is his fellow officer who was injured in the line of duty tonight,” he added. “May Chief McIntire’s memory be a blessing.”

Dozens of law enforcement vehicles escorted Chief McIntire’s body from the scene of the shooting to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office on Monday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Brackenridge Police Department Chief Justin McIntire, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Chief Justin McIntire, your life mattered.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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