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Multiple gunshots kill man; officers 'responded exactly how they were trained to do'

Brian Neiman died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head after his standoff with police Friday at Cato Park in Ferguson Township, according to Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers.

An autopsy performed Saturday by Sayers showed none of Neiman’s wounds was self-inflicted.

Armed with a shotgun, Neiman, 50, tried to reach the Christian radio station WTLR in Cato Park on Friday morning but was stopped by police near the station. Officers tried to coax Neiman out of his Ford Bronco before he aimed his vehicle at them, rammed into a patrol car and fired out his window.

Police shot Neiman, who slumped over, then suddenly accelerated into another cruiser. Officers unleashed more shots, killing Neiman. His truck barreled up a hill and struck a building.

A day later, investigators still had few clues to Neiman’s motives. His ex-wife said Friday he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and could become paranoid and angry if he didn’t take his medication. He lived near Karthaus after moving back from Wyoming, and one local resident said he threatened people.

On Friday morning, Neiman surprised employees at the Log Cabin Motors dealership in Spring Township by walking in with his loaded shotgun. He explained he wasn’t going to shoot, but that he had lost his wallet and needed gas money.

During a tense hour, during which Neiman placed his shotgun on a counter, he spoke of a conspiracy about drugs. Police and the FBI weren’t taking his calls, he said, and he needed to go on the radio. He had listened to WTLR often in the past, his ex-wife said.

When Neiman left for WTLR after being given $20, the dealership owner’s son, Jason Penland, called to warn the radio station and police.

Ferguson Township police Chief Diane Conrad said Saturday that her officers and others on the scene “responded exactly how they were trained to do.” She said two officers directly involved with Neiman’s death and a third are on administrative leave, in accordance with department regulations, while state police handle the investigation.

“They’re doing fine under the circumstances,” Conrad said. “They appreciate the support they’ve received not only from fellow officers but from all the community.”

Debriefing and stress counseling sessions for officers will begin today, Conrad said.

She wondered if lessons can be drawn from the shooting in the same way domestic violence fatalities are reviewed.

“Can we do anything to intervene earlier to prevent these things from happening?” she said. “That’s not only the police, but other agencies and family members in some instances. ... At some point, I hope we can get there with this case.”

Chris Rosenblum can be reached at 231-4620.

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