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Waynesburg teen charged as adult in shooting at German Township bonfire

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Monday, May 12, 2014, 12:33 p.m.

A handgun and two six packs of beer did not mix well for a Waynesburg teenager, who police said shot a man at a Fayette County bonfire and then scaled a police station to try to avoid capture.

Belmont Franklin Forsythe, 17, told police he took a gun to a bonfire in the woods near Leckrone-Masontown Road in German on Saturday because there had been fights there in the past, according to a criminal complaint.

Forsythe flashed the gun while playing beer pong about 11 p.m., angering one man who asked him to leave, according to a witness. But Forsythe instead “freaked out” and pointed the gun at the man, the complaint said.

A fight ensued, with Ray Renox punching Forsythe in the face, according to the complaint.

When Renox's brother, James Renox, 23, intervened, Forsythe shot him in both arms and fled, Trooper Daniel Boyd wrote in the complaint.

“After he fired the shots, he heard other people at the party screaming, ‘Oh, my God, you shot him!' it said. “Forsythe advised that he was scared at that point, so he ran from the scene because he knew he shot the gun three times and may have hit someone and he did not want to go to jail.”

Forsythe ran straight to the Masontown Police Department in the basement of District Judge Randy Abraham's office on East Church Street, said Masontown police Chief Joseph Ryan.

A borough police officer who was monitoring video feeds of cameras spotted Forsythe, gun in hand, outside the building, Ryan said.

“Our officer confronted him,” Ryan said. “He climbed up onto the roof, and dropped the gun.”

Forsythe jumped off the roof and ran to a wooded area off Route 21, where Masontown police Officer Mike Yeager and police dog Brony teamed to find him, Ryan said.

Once in police custody, Forsythe told Boyd he “drank approximately 12 cans of Bud Light beer at the party and made a mistake by even taking the gun to the party and shooting someone,” according to the complaint.

Forsythe told Boyd he fired the handgun when two men he did not know approached him “like they were going to start a fight with him because he had the gun in his pocket.”

A fight started when Forsythe “slammed one of the men” to the ground, according to the complaint.

“While he was on the ground fighting with this person, the other male kicked him in the forehead,” Boyd said in the complaint. “Forsythe reacted by taking the gun out of his right front pocket and fired three shots at one of the males.”

James Renox was taken to Uniontown Hospital by private vehicle for treatment of multiple gunshot wounds in his right and left upper arms, police said.

The handgun, a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson, was reported stolen in Morgantown, W.Va., police said.

Forsythe was charged as an adult with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, receiving stolen property, firearms not to be carried without a license, possessing instruments of crime, simple assault, reckless endangerment and underage drinking.

He was arraigned before District Judge Mike Defino of Redstone and placed in the Fayette County Prison in lieu of $250,000 bail. He will have a preliminary hearing before Abraham.

Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or

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