Pennsylvania turnpike
Two Pennsylvania Turnpike workers were fatally shot by a retired state trooper on 20 March.Getty Images

A retired Pennsylvania state trooper was fatally shot after he killed two Pennsylvania Turnpike tollbooth workers in an attempted robbery on 20 March. The man who attempted the armed holdup at a tollbooth in Forth Littleton at 7am EDT/11am GMT was identified as 55-year-old Clarence D Briggs.

According to Penn Live, Briggs was a former state trooper who had spent time working for a division that oversaw turnpike operations. He was honourably discharged from duty in 2012.

The two victims were tearfully identified by Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Chairman Sean Logan as 55-year-old Danny Crouse and 72-year-old Ronald Heist. It was unclear if Briggs was previously know to the two men, Penn Live reported.

Crouse has been working for the turnpike for three months and Heist, who was a retired York City Police officer, worked as a security contractor for the Schaad Detective Agency. "Today we lost two members of the turnpike family and extended family in a holdup attempt," Logan said in a press conference.

State Police Captain Dave Cain told reporters that Briggs arrived at the Fort Littleton Interchange toll and presented his weapon. He then reportedly forced two toll worker, Crouse among them, into a neighbouring building where there was a struggle when he attempted to tie them up. Cain said Briggs exited the building and then encountered Crouse and Heist, who arrived in a fare collection vehicle. The two men were then shot and the vehicle's unnamed driver managed to escape on foot.

Briggs took the vehicle and drove to his own to offload an undisclosed amount of money from the fare collection vehicle. He was met by responding officers and Briggs was killed in the gunfire exchange.

According to Penn Live, investigation is ongoing and the motive behind Briggs' attempted robbery is unknown. It was noted that Briggs filed for personal bankruptcy on 9 March, Morning Call reported. Briggs and his wife Donna listed between $100,001 and $500,000 in credit card, student loan, mortgage and vehicle loan debt.

Logan said that authorities would do everything necessary to figure out "exactly what happened" and added: "We are all deeply saddened by this horrific tragedy." Briggs was previously arrested on 24 March 2014 and charged with simple assault and harassment by a trooper from the state police Carlisle barracks. Those charges were dismissed on 8 July 2014.

The Turnpike Commission reportedly does not have immediate plans to increase security at toll booths along the main highway and the Northeast Extension. "We feel pretty good about the security measures," commission spokesman Carl DeFebo said. DeFebo added that the commission plans to review measures with state police and a private consultant. "There could be tweaks, but we need to confirm [first] that the process is working," he said.