Inmate charged with attempted murder of Pa. troopers during transport

The inmate seized a gun from one of the troopers as they were driving the inmate back to prison from a court hearing

By Jeff Himler
Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa.

INDIANA COUNTY, Pa. — An inmate at Indiana County’s Pine Grove state prison is charged with attempting to kill two state troopers when he seized a gun from one of the troopers and fired it twice as they were driving him back to the prison from a district court hearing.

In addition to two counts of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, Simere Maurice Alford, 20, of Philadelphia, is charged by state police with two counts each of aggravated assault, assault of a law enforcement officer, reckless endangerment and assault and aggravated harassment by a prisoner during the June 24 incident that happened as the police vehicle approached the entrance to the prison in White Township. Other charges include escape, resisting arrest, disarming a law enforcement officer, discharging a firearm into an occupied structure and other firearms offenses.

Pictured is Simere Maurice Alford.
Pictured is Simere Maurice Alford. (Photo/Pine Grove Prison)

According to state police spokesman Trooper Cliff Greenfield, the first shot Alford allegedly fired after freeing himself from his rear-seat restraint exited the driver’s side of the unmarked Crown Victoria, just missing the head of the male trooper who was driving. The trooper “reached between the seats and grabbed the firearm, and that is when the second round was fired by the prisoner,” Greenfield said. “That round struck the left leg and foot of the prisoner and traveled through the floorboard near the transmission tunnel and lodged in the frame of the vehicle.”

An airbag deployed as the vehicle crashed into a guardrail, Greenfield said. A female trooper who was a front-seat passenger exited the vehicle and opened the rear passenger door, he said. The gun dropped to the ground as the male trooper and Alford came through that door; the male trooper was able to restrain the prisoner against the ground until another trooper arrived and helped secure the scene, Greenfield said.

Greenfield declined to identify the involved troopers, who are assigned to the Indiana County barracks. He said the male trooper, who has served with state police for 11 years, suffered minor injuries and has returned to full duty, while the female trooper, who has completed 22 years of service, fractured her left arm and is on limited-duty status.

Both troopers and Alford were treated and released at Indiana Regional Medical Center.

Greenfield said investigators are attempting to determine how Alford was able to unfasten a leather transport belt that was used to restrain him in the rear seat of the police vehicle. Though still in handcuffs and leg restraints, Alford was able to unbuckle his seat belt and lunged forward while the car was in motion, grabbing the gun the male trooper had holstered on his right hip.

Alford continues to be held at the Pine Grove prison, where he is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Friday.

Online court records show he is serving 13 to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty and being sentenced in 2018 for third-degree murder, endangering the welfare of children and other charges.

Philadelphia police arrested Alford in May 2017 and charged him with attempted murder after choking his 7-year-old sister. The attack left the girl in critical condition, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

©2019 Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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