An inmate accused of taking a state trooper’s pistol and firing it twice inside an unmarked state police vehicle has been charged with 19 felony counts in connection with the June 24 incident outside State Correctional Institute Pine Grove in White Township, Indiana County, including two counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.

According to state police at Indiana, Simere Maurice Alford, also known as Simere Ord, 20, slipped free of restraints in the rear seat of a state police vehicle as he was being transported back to the SCI Pine Grove facility from a court appearance, grabbed a trooper’s pistol and discharged two rounds before being subdued.

An unnamed male trooper was driving the unmarked Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor at the time of the incident, with a female trooper in the front passenger seat and Alford in the rear seat on the passenger side, secured with leg restraints, handcuffs and a leather transport belt.

Alford’s hands were handcuffed in front of him with the handcuffs secured to the transport belt, which was buckled behind his back, police said.

“At some point during this transport, Mr. Alford was able to manipulate the transport belt by unbuckling the strap, freeing his hands from his waist and unbuckling his seatbelt,” according to a state police information release.

As the police vehicle turned left from Route 286 onto Fyock Road approaching SCI Pine Grove at 12:24 p.m., Alford allegedly lunged forward between the two front seats and grabbed the male trooper’s pistol from a holster on the right side of the trooper’s waist.

“Immediately upon disarming the male trooper, Mr. Alford fired a single round in the direction of the male trooper, with the round nearly striking the right side of the trooper’s head. The round exited the patrol vehicle through the front windshield in the driver’s side area,” according to the release.

The male trooper took his hands off the steering wheel and grabbed the pistol’s slide as Alford fired a second round, which struck Alford in the left leg and foot.

“After this second shot, the firearm jammed,” according to the release. “This jam was likely due to the trooper’s grip of the firearm over the slide, which is believe to have prevented the spent casing from ejecting and prohibited the firearm from cycling another round into the chamber.”

The police vehicle crashed into a guard rail along Fyock Road during the incident, disabling the vehicle and causing both front airbags to deploy.

Following the crash, the troopers exited the vehicle and “quickly regained control” of Alford until responding troopers arrived. Neither trooper fired a shot during the incident, police said.

Both troopers and Alford were transported by Citizens’ Ambulance to Indiana Regional Medical Center, where they were treated and released the same day.

The male trooper sustained minor injuries and has since been returned to full-duty status, according to the release. The female trooper suffered a broken arm in the crash and is on limited-duty status.

Alford was charged with two counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and 17 other felony charges. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday, Aug. 9, at SCI Pine Grove before Magisterial District Judge Christopher Welch.

“The safety of our members, prisoners and the general public is our top priority,” according to the release. “Pennsylvania State Police leadership regularly reviews department regulations and training to ensure this important function is carried out as safely and efficiently as possible. As with these types of incidents, a comprehensive review of the incident is being conducted to include policies and procedures.”

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