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POCATELLO - Three law enforcement officers were hospitalized with non-life threatening wounds Thursday after a parole violator allegedly opened fire on them.
Police returned fire and killed Nicholas Verl McKenna, 24. He was previously convicted in Bannock County of raping a minor and burglary.
The deadly incident occurred at 12:50 p.m. in a nondescript apartment unit at 870 N. Buchanan Ave., nestled against the base of Pocatello's West Bench.
Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen said the woman who lived at the Buchanan home and married McKenna in April, Melanie Lampien, was charged Thursday night with harboring a fugitive.
Pocatello Police Department Lt. Brad Hunt said six officers arrived at the scene Thursday afternoon to serve a felony warrant for parole violation.
Hunt said a woman invited the officers inside the residence, where they apparently encountered the suspect. Exactly what triggered the exchange of gunfire is unknown.
One officer, Probation and Parole Manager Wally Peterson, was treated and released at Portneuf Medical Center, while Pocatello Police officer Matthew Shutes and Probation and Parole officer Jed Dayley remained hospitalized with non-life threatening gunshot wounds.
While police filed into the hospital awaiting word of the officers' conditions, neighbors watched the day's developments unfold with shock.
In her apartment across the street, Audrey Beery was dozing off watching "City Confidential" when she heard the commotion.
"I know I heard guys yelling and what sounded like someone taking a baseball bat and banging it against a building," Beery said.
Beery's young children were playmates with the boy who lived in the apartment where the fateful warrant was served and said the deceased man struck her as an intensely private individual. No children were present in the Buchanan home at the time of the incident, police said.
"He didn't like it if the kids just came over and didn't ask him," she said. "He got very upset about that."
Beery's fifth-grade daughter, Nicole, arrived at home with her siblings after school got out at Jefferson Elementary School and ran to meet her worried mother.
"We got off the bus and I thought, 'What's going on? Is my mom OK? Is my neighbor OK?'" Nicole said. "I watch it on TV, but it's a little scary when it's your neighborhood."
At 7:15 p.m., police searched the home after acquiring a long-awaited judge's signature on a search warrant.
Men wearing slick, white suits and blue gloves processed evidence late Thursday inside the home.
Hunt would not comment about what the officers found inside.
"We've got to reconstruct the incident, and we've got to gather evidence," Hunt said about what the officers were doing.
The incident marks the second time in 16 months local police officers have been shot while on duty. Farin Stone pleaded guilty for shooting two Chubbuck police officers on May 7, 2005, and is currently awaiting sentencing.
Bannock County Deputy Coroner Kim Quick and other officials declined to release specifics in Thursday's case, as authorities spent much of the afternoon waiting for a judge to sign a search warrant so they could enter the crime scene.
Shortly after the incident occurred, one police officer could be seen consoling another as ambulances raced off toward the hospital.
State officials said it's not unusual for a district manager such as Peterson to be in the field assisting officers, but authorities declined to specify the nature of the deceased man's probation violation and why six officers were dispatched to the scene.
The state manages about 18,000 offenders released on parole in Idaho, including at least 700 in the Pocatello area.
Serving warrants is dangerous business. When we accompany the police
we are in danger the same as they are. Many violators are more hostile toward the PO than they are at the police officer. How many times do we hear something like "Why you violate me over over nuthin"? What about similar attitudes expressed by the violators family when we see them at Walmart?
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