Berks

Marijuana group blasts police for chasing suspect with dozer

Death 'could have and should have been prevented'

Pennsylvania State Police went grossly overboard in their pursuit of a marijuana suspect whose body was found under a bulldozer that authorities used to search for him in thick brush, according to a pot advocacy group.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) blasted state police Thursday for calling in a helicopter and commandeering a Pennsylvania Game Commission bulldozer as they tracked Gregory Longenecker.

"This awful event could have and should have been prevented," said Erik Altieri, NORML's executive director. "This tragedy is a direct result of our nation's draconic and failed criminalization of marijuana. Not only was the use of resources in this matter excessive and the tactics highly questionable, but more importantly, a man lost his life over the act of growing a plant that is now legally regulated in a majority of U.S. states."

The chase developed Monday morning after a game commission worker, who had been clearing brush on state game lands near in Penn Township, near Bernville, spotted a parked car he thought looked suspicious and called police.

One suspect, David Brook Light, 54, of Sinking Spring, surrendered, but Longenecker, 51, of Reading, fled. Police said his body was found under the rear of the bulldozer.

"As an activist and cannabis lobbyist in Pennsylvania, I always use decorum and process to my advantage," said Jeff Riedy, executive director of Lehigh Valley NORML. "There would seem to have been a total lack of both by law enforcement this past Monday outside of Bernville. By all accounts, the death of an illicit marijuana grower being chased by a state bulldozer, under the direction of Pennsylvania state troopers, was an unnecessary and reckless use of resources."

Autopsy results are pending for Longenecker.

Police said they found 10 marijuana plants at the scene.


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