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Father of Berks man who died in shootout is facing charges

Published August 22. 2011 05:03PM

READING, Pa. (AP) - The father of a man who died in a shootout that also killed a sheriff's deputy in eastern Pennsylvania is one of three people charged with having illegally supplied weapons to his son.

Authorities in Berks County say they were trying to arrest 25-year-old Matthew Connor on burglary and weapons offenses on June 29 when he fled an Albany Township home into the woods and fired at police with an AK-47 assault rifle. He and 28-year-old deputy sheriff Kyle Pagerly were killed in the exchange of gunfire. Police said family members later found a suicide note.

Maurice Connor of Kempton, 70, who served on the police force in Cherry Hill, N.J., was arrested Friday and charged with weapons violations in connection with the firearms his son possessed, including the assault rifle. Prosecutors allege that Jared Engleman, 26, of Shoemakersville bought the AK-47 at a Lehigh County store in 2004 but later sold it to Maurice Connor, although police said Connor told them earlier this month that his son had purchased the weapon.

Authorities said Matthew Connor was not legally allowed to own or possess any firearms because of numerous run-ins with the law.

"This was an individual who was enamored with guns, always wanted guns, and he did everything he could to obtain firearms," District Attorney John Adams told reporters Friday. He said the defendants showed a disregard for the law, especially since they knew that Matthew Connor had serious mental problems.

Maurice Connor told The Associated Press on Saturday that he was innocent of the charges.

"I didn't do the things they accuse me of," he said from his home in Kempton. "I can't believe it. I spent my whole life in public service trying to make the world a better place. I can't believe anyone would believe that I would do something against the law, first of all. ... To have them think I had something to do with this is just terrible."

Connor said his son had struggled with mental problems and the family had tried to get him the best treatment, but he "wanted to commit suicide by police." He said he also grieved for the slain officer.

"I feel so badly that my son caused this outstanding police officer to die," he said. "We're a thin blue line out there, and anytime anyone kills one of us we all feel it. I'm so sorry that somebody in my family could cause his death."

Also charged in the case were Engleman and Sandra Keim, 47, of Kempton. A man answering the phone at a number listed for Engleman on Saturday said it was the wrong number, and a listed number for Keim could not be found; it was unclear whether they had attorneys.

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