Lehigh Valley

Allentown man pleads guilty to murder of girlfriend, shootout with police

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - An Allentown man who was accused of killing his girlfriend and having a shootout with police in 2016 pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and aggravated assault charges Friday morning. 

Walter Bratvold will spend 30 to 60 years in state prison for the death of his girlfriend Rose Sieniawski.

Both Bratvold and a police officer were injured in the shootout with police on February 16, 2016, at the doorway of Bratvold's apartment in the 600 block of North Godfrey Street.

Members of the police department's emergency response team were assembled outside Bratvold's door. All were clad in ERT gear, including black vests with bold white lettering that read "police."

Bratvold shot Detective Christopher Diehl in the left arm. A projectile later found in Diehl's protective vest was determined to also have come from Bratvold's rifle, said District Attorney Jim Martin.

The wounded detective has recovered from being shot by Bratvold; the bullet apparently passed through his arm.

Bratvold was wounded by shots fired by police, before he closed the door and retreated back inside the apartment. The DA said the shooting was justified. 

The ERT team exited and, after a two-hour-long lull, a robot was sent into the apartment. A camera on the robot showed police that Bratvold was lying on a bed, obviously wounded, and without weapons at hand.

Police entered the apartment and took Bratvold to St. Luke's Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries.

Bratvold was charged with criminal homicide and abuse of a corpse for the death of 59-year-old Sieniawski, as well as five counts of aggravated assault and five counts of firing a firearm at law enforcement.

Sieniawski's decomposing body was discovered wrapped in garbage bags in a recycling bin in the 800 block of East Tilghman Street in Allentown shortly after 6 p.m. February 14. A February 16 autopsy determined she had been killed by multiple gunshot wounds.

Sieniawski had resided with Bratvol. Police determined he was the suspect in her death, which is why they got a search warrant and went to Bratvold's apartment.

The ERT team was sent because police said they knew the suspect had three handguns and a prior criminal record.

Police later learned that Bratvold had seen them arrive outside his apartment building, according to Martin. He was on a phone call with his sister when police arrived and told her they were there before they got to the door of his apartment.

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