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Man pleads guilty to role in 2022 standoff, officer-involved shooting in Lancaster County

Zachary Gilbaugh, 39, will serve a prison term of eight to 20 years after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and related offenses, prosecutors said Thursday.

TERRE HILL, Pa. — Note: The video is from February 2022.

A Berks County man who was shot by police during a standoff in Lancaster County last year will serve up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and other related offenses, the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

Zachary R. Gilbaugh, 39, of Reading, entered his guilty plea before Lancaster County Judge Thomas Sponaugle at a hearing Thursday morning, DA Heather Adams announced. Sponaugle accepted the plea and ordered a prison term of eight to 20 years.

“I regret what I did,” Gilbaugh said during the proceeding. “I was doing drugs. I apologize.” 

According to prosecutors, members of the United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force were executing an arrest warrant for Gilbaugh around 6:00 a.m. on Feb. 1, 2022, at a home on the 1400 block of Union Grove Road in  East Earl Township. 

East Earl Township Police Department held multiple warrants for Gilbaugh including stalking, a PFA violation, criminal trespass, burglary, vehicle theft, and other offenses stemming from a course of conduct that began on December 17, 2021. 

Gilbaugh had additional active warrants for burglary by the Reading Police Department, intimidation of a witness by East Earl Township Police Department, and probation violations of indecent exposure in Berks County and resisting arrest by Chester County District Attorney’s Office, according to prosecutors. 

During the execution of the warrant, Gilbaugh was found in a crawlspace-like area in the basement of the residence. He failed to comply with verbal commands from the officers and threatened them with a small blowtorch and cinder blocks. 

The officers deployed tasers and a ballistic sponge round that were ineffective in getting Gilbaugh to comply, prosecutors said. 

At this time, the officers retreated from the house and evacuated all other people from the residence. 

Gilbaugh then exited the front door of the residence carrying a large, circular saw blade and the blowtorch, prosecutors said. He approached and entered a tan Chrysler minivan, dropping the saw blade on the ground as he entered the driver’s seat. The vehicle was parked facing the street in a lot in the front of the residence. 

Five officers converged on the vehicle and again gave verbal commands to comply, which Gilbaugh ignored. 

Instead, prosecutors said, he accelerated forward while two uniformed officers were in front of the vehicle, nearly striking both. 

As the vehicle lurched forward, officers fired multiple shots at Gilbaugh, who was struck multiple times.

Adams later deemed the officers' shooting was justified under Pennsylvania law as Gilbaugh endangered the lives of officers who were commanding him to stop. 

After the officers fired at Gilbaugh, his vehicle crashed into a guardrail and came to a stop across the street. The officers removed him from the vehicle and rendered first aid. 

The blowtorch was later found by Lancaster County Detectives in the area of the crash. 

The actions of Gilbaugh were caught on video by a nearby surveillance system and reviewed by Lancaster County Detectives. 

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Miller prosecuted the case.

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