JIM THORPE (AP) – Investigators were looking into whether mental illness played a role in the death of an off-duty eastern Pennsylvania deputy sheriff after he took another off-duty officer hostage at gunpoint before fatally shooting himself, police said Saturday.
State Police Cpl. Shawn Noonan said that investigators are trying to figure out what motivated Carbon County Deputy Sheriff David Midas and said they were interviewing co-workers and family members to see whether there were signs of mental illness.
“They’re still trying to figure out the details,” Noonan said.
The Times News of Lehighton and WFMZ-TV identified the second officer as Christopher Ondrus, 34.
Noonan said the men were friends, and that Midas’ death was not considered suspicious. Noonan had no information about Ondrus’ condition, but that as far as he knew, he hadn’t been injured.
On Friday night, police say Midas, 33, of Weatherly, went to the police station in the small town of Lansford, where he was a part-time officer, and took ammunition and an unmarked police car before he drove to the home of another off-duty officer and took him hostage.
Midas then drove Ondrus to nearby Jim Thorpe, where a struggle began in the tourist town of Jim Thorpe, about 70 miles north of Philadelphia. Midas shot himself in the head, police say. He died early Saturday at a hospital, according to Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim, who ruled Midas’ death a suicide.
During the struggle, Ondrus tried to take the gun away from Midas, the Carbon County sheriff, Dwight Nothstein, told WFMZ-TV. Lansford Mayor Ron Hood told the Times News of Lehighton that Midas and Ondrus were best friends.