Girl testifies she feared ‘getting shot’ by Derry mayor | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Girl testifies she feared ‘getting shot’ by Derry mayor

Renatta Signorini
1067465_web1_gtr-grossgun
WPXI
Kevin M. Gross, 38, of Derry arrives for his preliminary hearing Wednesday, April 24, 2019. He is accused of pointing a gun at four children in a Derry park.
1067465_web1_gtr-derryparkgun01-041619

A 15-year-old boy testified Wednesday that he was involved in a scuffle at a Derry park this month with two younger boys when he heard someone yelling.

“‘Get on the ground, put your hands up’ … with a lot more profanity,” the boy said he heard.

The person yelling was Derry Mayor Kevin M. Gross, 38, who the boy testified stood a few feet away from him April 14 and pointed a revolver while the teen was on his knees with his hands in the air. Gross told him to stay on the ground and asked if he had a weapon, which he didn’t.

“The gun was within arm’s reach … of me,” the boy testified during Gross’ preliminary hearing. “I saw him pointing the gun directly at my head.”

District Judge Mark Bilik ordered Gross to stand trial on aggravated assault and related charges in connection with the alleged confrontation. The boy and three girls — two 14-year-olds and a 12-year-old — testified during an hour-long hearing that they were scared when Gross pointed a loaded revolver at them until neighbors intervened.

“What were you afraid of?” Assistant District Attorney Pete Caravello asked one of the teen girls.

“Getting shot,” she replied.

State troopers arrested Gross and accused him of taking the gun to the park near his Broad Street home just before 8:30 p.m. after his son was involved in the scuffle with the boy.

Gross had holstered his weapon by the time troopers arrived, and he surrendered it, according to court papers. He has since resigned as mayor.

The girls testified that they were at the park with the boy when the fight broke out. The girls started walking away when Gross arrived with the gun, but he yelled at them to stop, according to testimony. Gross allegedly ordered them at gunpoint to put their belongings down.

“He waved the gun and told us to get over here,” the other 14-year-old girl testified.

Trooper Ty Smith said Gross had 15 rounds of ammunition on him and the revolver was loaded.

Defense attorney Tim Andrews argued that aggravated assault charges should be dismissed because none of the victims was hurt. A boy involved in the scuffle had a minor scrape.

“He merely pointed it while clearly asking this young man if he had a weapon,” Andrews argued. “Mr. Gross, there’s no testimony, ever threatened to kill these children, there’s no testimony he ever touched them with a weapon … and I just think it’s beyond the pale” that prosecutors would charge him with aggravated assault.

Bilik rejected that argument without hearing a response from prosecutors.

“He’s not pointing a stick at him, he’s not pointing a bat at him,” Bilik said. “He’s pointing a loaded gun at him.”

Gross is free on $20,000 bond. Sheriff’s deputies seized more than 55 firearms from his home as part of bond conditions Bilik imposed.

The judge chastised Gross and his wife at the conclusion of Wednesday’s hearing for what Bilik described as an attempt on April 16 to hide guns from sheriff’s deputies.

“I do not appreciate the loops they made the sheriffs go through to get these guns,” he said.

Andrews told Bilik there are no guns remaining at Gross’ home, and he called it “confusion” and a misunderstanding. The majority of those firearms are collectible items that have never been used. The remaining guns are used for hunting or target shooting.

Andrews pointed out after the hearing that witnesses testified Gross asked for police to be called when neighbors intervened. Andrews said police didn’t ask Gross his side of the story and other witnesses have not been interviewed.

“He wasn’t trying to avoid anything, he was trying to bring authorities into it to make sure nothing worse happened,” Andrews said. “He was trying to save these children from a possible assault with a weapon … .”

Andrews plans to continue contesting the aggravated assault charges.

The boy’s stepfather, Jason Caldwell, was happy the judge held that charge.

“There is no common sense sticking a gun in a kid’s face. None whatsoever,” Caldwell said. “The kids were scrapping … and it was over something stupid. You go from fighting over a marker to pointing a .38 at somebody. You can’t make that leap in any stretch of the imagination.”

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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.