ONTELAUNEE TWP., Pa. - A road rage situation escalated and turned violent along Route 61 in Ontelunee Township around 11 p.m. Tuesday when an off-duty police officer shot a man along the side of the road, leaving him critically injured, authorities said.
"It's very rare to get shootings, so it's kind of surreal," said Matt James, who heard the gunshot near his home by Berkley Park Road.
The officer, whose name hasn't been released, was driving alone when his vehicle and another, containing five people, became involved in a road rage incident, police said.
"At some point they did hit. I don't know how early on in the road rage incident the actual striking occurred at this point. That's one of the things we're investigating," said Chief Scott Eaken, Northern Berks Regional Police Department.
Officials said the off-duty cop and three men from the other vehicle then exited their cars, and a "scuffle" began.
"My understanding is there was a verbal confrontation, all of a sudden punches started to get thrown," said Eaken.
The off-duty cop was reportedly being beaten on the ground by the men when he pulled the trigger.
Police said one man, whose name also has not been released, was shot and transported to Reading Hospital. He remains in critical condition.
Two others, including the off-duty cop, were also transported but are okay, police said.
"It's very early on in the investigation. Hopefully, we'll have some answers in the very near future," said Berks County District Attorney John Adams.
Officials told 69 News that passengers and witnesses were interviewed all day Wednesday at the Berks County Courthouse.
One alleged passenger involved in the scuffle, identified as
Ramon Villa, reportedly fled police custody after giving officers a fake name. He was charged with escape and false identification.
Police are investigating to determine whether more charges will follow.
Anyone with information or who may have witnessed the incident are urged to call police.
Allentown, PA 18102