Police: Trick-or-treaters found Newberry Twp. man who committed suicide
ELIZABETH EVANS The York Dispatch
Children trick-or-treating Thursday at a Newberry Township mobile-home park got a terrible fright when they discovered a man who had committed suicide on his front stoop, police said.
"I'm sure it was very upsetting to the children who saw him -- and to their families," Newberry Township Police Chief John Snyder said. "To me, it's something they're probably going to remember for the rest of their lives. I wish an adult would have found him before the kids did."
Police were called to Lot 113 of the Conewago Valley Mobile Home Park, at 800 York Road, about 6:20 p.m. after the trick-or-treating children found the man and reported it to a neighbor, Snyder said.
The man used a handgun to fatally shoot himself, the chief said; it appeared it was a head wound.
"We don't know when he committed suicide," Snyder said, or how long the man was lying on his stoop.
"I'm confused as to why no one during the day saw it," he said. "I assume people thought he was a (Halloween) decoration. The way he was lying there, you wouldn't have known if he was just taking a nap or if he was a decoration."
Quickly covered: Responding officers covered the man with a sheet as soon as they could and blocked off the area of his home from other trick-or-treaters, Snyder said.
The man was 68 years old, according to the York County Coroner's Office; no autopsy is planned.
"He was very ill ... and he didn't want to go to a hospital or a (nursing) home," Snyder said. "I just wish he'd have done it somewhere else. When people commit suicide, they don't think about the people around them -- they only think about themselves. It's one of the most selfish things you can do."
There was only a small amount of blood visible at the scene, the chief said; the man wasn't really visible from the street so it's likely not too many children saw him.
"Don't get me wrong -- it's still not a good thing for children to see," he said.
Gun: The handgun was still on the stoop, half hidden between the man's legs, according to Snyder.
"Unless you looked for it, you wouldn't have seen it," he said.
Snyder said the man lived alone and, based on the inside of his home, was a very clean, tidy person. That might have contributed to the man's decision not to kill himself inside his trailer, the chief said.
Snyder said because the man was found shortly after trick-or-treat started, it limited the number of children exposed to the scene.
"That's some consolation," he said, adding that officers spoke with the children who did witness the suicide scene.
"We did our best to talk to them," Snyder said. "It was bad timing all around."
Click to view image: 'Halloween Decoration Head Shot '
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