Cooksburg Man Sentenced to 8½ to 17 Years in Prison for Shootout with State Police

| May 18, 2017

macbethBROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – A Cooksburg man who engaged in an armed standoff and shootout with Pa. State Police in Jefferson County last year was sentenced on Wednesday to a lengthy term in state prison.

John Michael Macbeth, 48, received a sentence of 8 1/2 to 17 years by Senior Judge John Foradora.

Foradora also imposed $3,400.00 fines and $4,628.14 in restitution.

Macbeth has been lodged in the Jefferson County Jail on $500,000.00 bail after his armed standoff with 30 state police officers on March 12, 2016.

He pleaded guilty to 32 counts of Recklessly Endangering Another Person, a second-degree misdemeanor.

In the plea agreement, the following charges were dismissed:

– Criminal Attempt – Murder, Felony 1 (30 counts)
– Aggravated Assault, Felony 1 (90 counts)

Macbeth’s attorney, Patrick Nightingale, thanked the district attorney’s office for dropping the felony charges and then argued for leniency. He was unhappy with the sentence, though, hoping Macbeth’s sentence would be time served and a lengthy probation period.

“I am very disappointed in the judge’s sentence,” Nightingale said after the sentencing. “I don’t believe putting him in a cage is the answer.”

Before Judge Foradora announced his decision, Nightingale and Prosecutor Kris Carlini of the District Attorney’s office, argued their points.

“No police were injured in the incident, my client has a history of psychological treatment and a lifetime of alcohol abuse,” Nightingale said. “That day he was having a reaction to the medication he was taking and when mixed with alcohol, caused him to be literally out of his mind.”

“We’re glad no one was hurt, but how many state police needed to be there?”

Carlini took exception with some of Nightingale’s assertions.

“The facts remain, the defendant fired 30 shots during an eight-hour standoff, refused to talk to police, and had to be taken into custody,” Carlini said. “When his sister and another relative came to the property, he confronted them with a handgun. That’s when they called police and when they responded, he responded by firing the gun.”

“I also take offense that just because no one was hurt, they weren’t victims.”

Judge Foradora addressed Macbeth before pronouncing sentence.

“After considering everything, your age, education, including your previous record, the DUIs, your convictions in Mercer and McKean counties, this sentence is appropriate,” Judge Foradora said.

“What you did is a very dangerous way of saying ‘I want to be left alone.’ And, I won’t second-guess the decisions of the state police in their response with the SERT team and how it was handled.”

Details of the March 12 Incident

According to a previously-published story on, on Saturday, March 12, Trooper Kathleen Watters, of the Marienville-based State Police, responded to Route 36 in Barnett Township for the report of a man with a gun.

A female relative of the suspect identified the suspect as Macbeth and said that “he had been drinking heavily the night before and that she was concerned about his welfare. Around 8:20 a.m., the known woman went to (MacBeth’s) residence in an attempt to talk to him….When he opened his door, he had a handgun in his right hand and was waving it around. (MacBeth) told the female to ‘(expletive) Off,’ and that he wasn’t going anywhere.”

The woman then left his residence, and PSP Marienville was contacted. The woman reported there “was also an incident that occurred the night before between MacBeth and a known man (an employee of MacBeth’s Cabins),” the complaint stated.

The known man advised that “on March 11 around 6:20 p.m., he went to MacBeth’s house to tell him there were some guests in some of the cabins. The known man went up the stairs to (MacBeth’s) door, and when (MacBeth) opened the door, he pointed a handgun right at the known man. The known man said that “he and (MacBeth) are friends, and he could tell that (MacBeth) was under the influence of alcohol,” the complaint indicates.

Troopers from PSP Marienville attempted to make contact with MacBeth, and MacBeth refused to come out of the residence. At this point, Trooper Watters requested a warrant of arrest for MacBeth and a search warrant be issued for the property, the complaint continues.

The State Police Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) responded to the scene. At 4:30 p.m., after the SERT deployed tear gas into the residence, MacBeth began firing shots from a firearm at the SERT members. Between 4:30 p.m. and 5:09 p.m., MacBeth had fired a total of 30 shots at SERT members, according to the complaint.

Police exchanged gunfire with MacBeth several times over the course of the standoff, according to police.

MacBeth surrendered to police without incident around 10:20 a.m., on Sunday, March 13, 2016.

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