Ligonier-area dad gets probation in shooting
By Rich Cholodofsky
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
A Ligonier Township father pleaded no contest on Monday to charges that he left his two stepchildren and a playmate home alone with a cache of weapons, resulting in the friend's fatal shooting.
Rodger McQuillis told Westmoreland County Judge Debra A. Pezze he didn't believe the children were in danger on Sept. 3, 2010, when he left to visit his mother in a nursing home.
But when McQuillis and his wife left, their 12-year-old son retrieved a 30-caliber M-1 carbine rifle and fatally shot 11-year-old Christopher Ryan Harr, who was visiting the family's Darlington Road home.
Police charged McQuillis with misdemeanor counts of child endangerment and reckless endangerment.
“It is our belief that when we were going to the nursing home we were not endangering the children. It is in our best interest to do this plea,” McQuillis said.
Entry of a no-contest plea is not considered an admission of guilt. Pezze sentenced McQuillis to two years' probation.
District Attorney John Peck said members of the Harr family, who did not attend Monday's hearing, asked that McQuillis not serve any jail time.
Peck unsuccessfully sought to have McQuillis serve a year on house arrest.
According to court records, Harr visited the McQuillis home and stayed that night for dinner.
Police said McQuillis left his two stepsons, ages 12 and 13, and Harr alone with about a dozen guns and ammunition.
One of the stepsons allegedly got a rifle from an upstairs utility room and, with the barrel pointed at Harr's head, pulled the trigger, according to investigators.
The gun discharged on the second trigger pull, police said.
The boy, now 13 years old, was prosecuted in juvenile court on a misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Court officials declined to reveal the outcome of that case because juvenile records are sealed from public view.
The Harr family has filed a civil lawsuit against the McQuillis family, which is pending.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Memo confirms VA Pittsburgh officials knew of Legionella threat long before made public
- Analysis: Steelers could fill needs with free agents while not spending big bucks
- Greensburg man lends expertise to new cable series ‘UFO Files’
- Sewickley teen’s art helps her deal with challenges of epilepsy
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley; Taylor restructures contract
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- State Supreme Court will hear appeal in case of 11-year-old murderer
- Police charge Westmoreland County priest in $124,000 theft case
- Fugitive in North Side homicide arrested
- Crosby lifts Penguins over Capitals in last game of road trip
- Judge denies former city police Chief Nate Harper’s appeal