Upper Southampton officer found shot to death in patrol car

Posted: April 16, 2011

An Upper Southampton police officer died Friday of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said.

Richard Lizzio, 56, was found at about 8:30 a.m. in his patrol car in the parking lot of the Jesus Focus Ministry Church at Bristol and Churchville Roads, according to Bucks County Coroner Joseph Campbell.

"It's just a horrible tragedy," Campbell said.

An autopsy was scheduled for Saturday morning.

Lizzio had been on the force for more than 20 years and was married, Campbell said.

His death nearly led to a second tragedy when one of the many officers responding to the scene, Ivyland Borough Police Chief Nicholas Rosato, suffered a heart attack, Heckler said. Rosato was taken to St. Mary Medical Center, where he was in stable condition.

"We are very relieved," said Heckler, adding that initial reports had led him to believe Rosato "might not make it." But he said he was told Rosato was sitting up in bed and talking.

Charles Ritter, mayor of Ivyland, which has about 1,000 residents and eight mostly part-time police officers, said he had learned of Rosato's heart attack about 9 a.m.

"It was not your average morning by any means. . . . We had grave concerns, but it turned out well," he said.

Rosato, a former Philadelphia police officer, has been with the department about 10 years, Ritter said.

Contact staff writer Kathy Boccella at 610-313-8123 or kboccella@phillynews.com.

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