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The Wyomissing police officer was characterisically cool under pressure who shot a suspect in a convenience store robbery after the man pulled a gun on him, the borough police chief said Monday.
Sgt. Leon J. Grim remained calm even though Francisco Hernandez pointed a handgun at him in Grim's police vehicle in the Berkshire Heights section of the borough Sunday night, Chief Jeffrey R. Biehl said.

Police said Hernandez had tried to rob the Sunoco A-Plus at Park Road and North Wyomissing Boulevard minutes earlier.

The robbery was thwarted by off-duty borough police dispatcher Dale Fisher, who was leaving the store as Hernandez went inside, police said.

Grim, a 12-year veteran, drew his weapon while Hernandez fumbled with the handle of the locked door directly behind Grim, Biehl said.

Hernandez ignored Grim's repeated orders to drop the weapon before he was shot, Biehl said.

"Grimmy's a pretty solid character," Biehl said. "He's a military veteran, and he's used to tense situations. He handled it well."

Grim was a lieutenant and a Marine Corps platoon commander in the 2nd Marine Division, one of the first units to enter Kuwait when the Gulf War ground assault began in February 1991, according to newspaper files.

Grim was awarded the Bronze Star, according to the files.

Biehl said Grim could have fired without warning to end the threat, but instead gave Hernandez a choice.

"He had some forethought and said, 'Drop the weapon,' " Biehl said. "The suspect opted for not dropping the weapon."

Grim fired three shots, two of which struck Hernandez, 40, of the 800 block of River Road, police said.

Hernandez, who was shot in the torso and an arm, was taken to Reading Hospital, where he remained in fair condition.

Hernandez was charged with attempted robbery, attempted robbery of a vehicle, aggravated assault, possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number and related offenses.

District Judge Phyllis J. Kowalski, Exeter Township, arraigned Hernandez in the hospital. She set bail at $500,000.

Berks County sheriff's deputies are guarding Hernandez, who will be committed to the county prison when he is released from the hospital.

Police gave this further account:

Hernandez, who was wearing dark glasses and a hooded sweat shirt pulled over his head, acted as if he had a gun and ordered Fisher back inside the store.
Fisher alerted store personnel to the robbery and Hernandez backed away from the store, Hernandez pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and cocked the weapon.

Hernandez ran around the store and into an alley toward Sixth Street as Fisher directed two other customers into a back room for safety as the clerk went outside to see where Hernandez had gone.

Fisher used a customer's cell phone to call 9-1-1.

Grim, who was on patrol nearby, heard the clerk yell that someone had tried to rob the store. The clerk directed Grim to the alley.

Grim alerted other police and drove through the alley to Sixth Street. As he drove to the end of the block on Sixth, he saw tail lights activate on a pickup truck he had just passed.

Grim backed up and when his police sport utility vehicle was next to the truck,Hernandez pointed the gun at Grim and said, "Shut up and be quiet."

Hernandez got out of the truck and tried to open the rear driver's side door of the SUV. Grim then issued the warnings and subsequently fired on Hernandez.

Officers from several police departments responded.

Biehl said Grim was scheduled to be off Monday and will be given an extra day or two of paid leave before returning to duty.

State police are reviewing the shooting.

State police Sgt. Raymond Guth, criminal investigations supervisor at the Reading station, said findings from the investigation will be forwarded to the district attorney's office.
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