Alleged shooter faces trial on 41 charges
By Jennifer Reeger
Published: Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 12:36 a.m.
Trooper Jesse Cramer Jr. tried to get Daniel Lee Ryan to come out of his home peacefully.
Ryan already had threatened to shoot his wife, himself and anyone who came near his Hempfield home.
So Cramer stood near a neighbor's home while he told Ryan in a phone call that he was approaching his porch.
“I said, ‘Dan, I'm down here. I'm walking up on the porch. Turn the light on,'” Cramer testified Thursday before Jeannette District Judge Joseph DeMarchis.
Ryan hung up. Seconds later, he fired two shots through the front door, where Cramer had claimed he would be standing, the trooper testified.
They were the first of at least 17 shots Ryan is accused of firing from inside his home as troopers surrounded it on the night of Oct. 11.
Ryan, 44, of 122 Antler Lane, will face trial on six counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, 17 counts of aggravated assault, 17 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of terroristic threats, DeMarchis ruled after more than two hours of testimony.
The incident began around 10 p.m. when Ryan's wife, Dawn, 35, heard him throwing things around the kitchen and master bedroom. He was yelling and making nonsensical sounds, she said.
Dawn Ryan said she asked her husband what was wrong. What he said frightened her.
“All day long, he had been thinking about shooting me and shooting himself,” Dawn Ryan testified, her voice breaking.
With that, Dawn Ryan said she tried to get into the bedroom to remove two guns the couple kept in bedside drawers, but her husband blocked her.
She grabbed her cellphone and headed out the door, leaving behind the two guns and a third she kept in her purse.
Her husband followed her.
“He was yelling at me not to call the police, and he would shoot anybody who would come to the house,” Dawn Ryan said.
But she did call police and took shelter in a home just above hers on the hillside private road between North Greengate Road and the Amos K. Hutchinson Bypass (Toll 66).
Cramer and his partner were the first officers to arrive in response to the 10:30 p.m. call.
Dawn Ryan told Cramer that her husband, a recovering alcoholic, had been drinking for a couple of days.
“She said, ‘I don't want him to hurt you,' and she started crying,” Cramer testified.
Cramer made contact with Daniel Ryan by telephone.
“Ryan explained he was just sad, asked me to leave a few times, and said he would take care of it himself,” Cramer said.
But when Ryan began firing, more troopers were called to assist, Cramer said. Ryan surrendered just after 1 a.m.
Some of the troopers testified Thursday that they heard rounds hitting the trees around them during the standoff.
Trooper John T. Beynon III said he and another trooper approached the house to make sure Ryan had not gotten outside.
A shot rang out and seemed to go above their heads into the trees, Beynon said. Within moments, a second shot passed between them.
“It was so close you could feel the buzzing as it went past,” Beynon said.
Trooper Brian Kendgia, who works in the forensic services unit, testified he found 13 bullet holes in the Ryan home. Six failed to go through the walls. Others may have passed through windows that were shattered.
Defense attorney Brian Aston questioned whether any of the bullets came near troopers, saying the trajectory of the bullets Kendgia mapped weren't fired where troopers testified they were.
He asked DeMarchis to dismiss the attempted homicide charges, saying the state did not prove Ryan intended to kill anyone.
But Assistant District Attorney James Lazar said just because Ryan was a bad shot doesn't mean he wasn't trying to hurt the troopers.
“He made it perfectly clear to (his wife) that he was going to shoot anyone who came to the house,” Lazar said.
Jennifer Reeger is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or email@example.com.
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