Derry Township deer hunter to face trial
A Derry Township man who shot a deer running through a Wal-Mart parking lot on the first day of buck season last fall was ordered to stand trial for endangering the public.
Blairsville District Judge Jennifer Rega ruled sufficient evidence was presented Wednesday at a preliminary hearing for Arcangelo “Angelo” Bianco Jr., 40, for the incident that startled shoppers and employees at the store along Route 22 in Indiana County, according to testimony.
Bianco, of Cribbs Way, is charged by the state game commission with reckless endangerment, killing or taking big game unlawfully, failing to have a hunting license, discharging a weapon across a highway, discharging a weapon in a safety zone and using a motor vehicle to hunt illegally.
Bianco pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Wal-Mart employee Domenick Hewitt testified that he was outside the store helping to load stock into trailers on Nov. 26 for upcoming “Black Friday” sales when he noticed a pickup truck suddenly stop in the parking lot and speed in reverse toward the side of the store.
“After the truck stopped, I saw this guy jump out, and he start running along the side of the store, where the trailers were, and he pulled out a handgun and fired two shots at the deer. At first, I didn't know what he was doing,” Hewitt said.
Hewitt testified Bianco followed the deer and fired another shot as it crossed Old Route 22 toward a residential area behind the store, and two more shots after it fell in an unidentified woman's yard.
Bianco returned to his Chevrolet pickup truck, loaded the deer into the bed and drove away, Hewitt said.
Bianco told onlookers that the deer was injured and he was being humanitarian by putting it out of its misery. “He said he thought he should take care of it,” Hewitt said.
Under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Jay Carmella, Hewitt said he did not notice any injuries to the deer as it ran a few feet from the trailers where employees were loading merchandise.
Hewitt said the shooting startled his co-workers and store customers, some of whom used cellphones to report the shooting to authorities.
The deer was shot at the Burrell Township store about 2:10 p.m., game commission officer Jack Lucas testified.
Lucas said he noticed blood spatters from the deer on the trailers and he watched Bianco's actions on a store surveillance tape.
“It was the week just prior to Thanksgiving and the parking lot was really busy. The deer was taken within the safety zone,” Lucas said.
He noted it is illegal to fire a weapon within 150 yards of an occupied structure. In addition to store employees, there were 10 residences within the safety zone, Lucas said.
Lucas said when he questioned Bianco a few days later, he admitted firing five shots at the deer and then stopped cooperating.
Lucas said the deer carcass was recovered from Rhodes Butcher Shop in Derry Township, and the head and trophy antlers were later traced to Samuel Monteparte's taxidermy shop in New Alexandria.
“They did not cooperate,” Lucas testified.
Bianco did not have a hunting license, Lucas said.
Defense attorney Jason Huska of Latrobe argued that the most serious complaint of reckless endangerment, a second-degree misdemeanor, should be dismissed because Bianco did not fire the handgun in the parking lot “and he had no way of knowing there was anyone in the trailers on the side when he shot.”
“Whether (Bianco) saw them or not, there were people in those trailers outside. And as it was testified to, there were a lot of people in the parking lot, a woman came out of her home and he fired across a highway. ... He had to know there was a risk of firing a gun there,” Carmella said.
Rega ordered that all charges be held for court.
Bianco, who is free on a recognizance bond, declined comment as he left Rega's office.
Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or email@example.com.