Reading Man Shot By Law Enforcement In LanCo. After Using Flamethrower Says 'I Was Doing Drugs'

A Reading man who survived a law enforcement-involved shooting that previously left him in critical condition has pleaded to all charges in the Lancaster County Courthouse on Thursday, March 16, 2023, according to the district attorney's office. 

Zachary Robert Gilbaugh, a blowtorch and cider blocks similar to the ones he aimed at law enforcement on Feb. 1, 2022.

Zachary Robert Gilbaugh, a blowtorch and cider blocks similar to the ones he aimed at law enforcement on Feb. 1, 2022.

Photo Credit: Lancaster County District Attorney's office (overlay); Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures

Zachary Robert Gilbaugh, 39, of the 1100 block of New Holland Road, pleaded guilty before Lancaster County Judge Thomas Sponaugle who accepted the plea and sentenced him to 8 to 20 years in prison. 

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

Gilbaugh was wanted on multiple warrants in East Earl Township for stalking, a PFA violation, criminal trespass, burglary, vehicle theft, and other offenses stemming from a course of conduct that began on December 17, 2021, according to the DA and as Daily Voice previously reported. 

On Feb. 1, 2022, things escalated quickly when members of the United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force were executing an arrest warrant for Gilbaugh who was staying at home in East Earl Township around 6:00 a.m.

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 the update release. 

He was found in a crawlspace-like area in the basement of a residence in the 1400 block of Union Grove Road, the release states.

Instead of complying with law enforcement's commands he "threatened them with a small blowtorch and cinder blocks," as stated in the release.

A TASER device was used as well as a "ballistic sponge," they did not work and were later found discarded in the basement, officials say.

During the time the home was evacuated, and soon Gilbaugh was coming out the front door "carrying a large, circular saw blade and the blowtorch," as stated in the release.

He attempted to flee in a tan Chrysler minivan, dropping the saw blade on the ground as he entered the driver’s seat, but "five officers converged on the vehicle...Gilbaugh accelerated forward while two uniformed officers were in front of the vehicle, nearly striking both," authorities say.

As the vehicle lurched forward that's when officers fired multiple shots at Gilbaugh, according to the release.

He was struck multiple times and crashed the vehicle into a guardrail, only to come to a stop across the street, according to the release. 

Officials say he was given aid at the scene and taken to an area hospital where he remains in the ICU under guard.

This incident was caught on camera by a nearby surveillance system which Lancaster County Detectives have reviewed

Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams later deemed the officers justified in March 2022 under Pennsylvania law as Gilbaugh endangered the lives of officers who were commanding him to stop.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Miller prosecuted the case. Detective Brendan McAnally filed charges.

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