A state trooper testified Thursday that a 47-year-old man stepped outside of a camping trailer in Mt. Pleasant Township and fired three shots from a handgun in his direction.
Based on the testimony of state police Cpl. James McCutcheon and two others, Norvelt District Judge Roger Eckels ordered Timothy Minerd to stand trial for three counts of aggravated assault, simple assault, terroristic threats and reckless endangerment and a single count of leaving the scene of an accident. None of the three victims was injured, police said.
“Someone had spotted what they believed to be the hit-and-run vehicle on Shady Lane, and I went down to see if the pickup truck was wrecked and whether anyone was around. Then I heard yells and screams coming from inside the camper, and I wasn’t sure whether he was upset that I was around, so I backed off,” McCutcheon said.
McCutcheon testified that he retreated to the patrol car and instructed two women who also arrived at Minerd’s camper to move away. He said Minerd then stepped outside and fired shots from a handgun.
“I was fearful for my life. All I could see was that he was holding a gun in his right hand,” McCutcheon said.
The two women, Paula Patterson and Janice Wise — who were near Minerd’s camper when he allegedly fired the shots — testified under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Greg DeFloria that they were also frightened.
Patterson and Wise, who live along Blacksmith Road near the village of Mammoth, testified that less than an hour before the shooting at 11:20 a.m., Minerd had crashed into a utility pole near their homes and drove off. As Minerd attempted to free his truck from atop the downed utility pole and away from downed wires, “he pulled out all of the utility lines from Paula’s house as he drove away,” Wise told Eckels.
“I heard on a fireman’s radio that the truck was found on Shady Lane, so Janice and I drove down because I wanted photographs of the damaged truck for insurance purposes,” Patterson told Eckles.
As Minerd’s attorney, Richard Galloway, repeatedly questioned Patterson about whether she saw Minerd aim the handgun at any of the three, Patterson became angry. Galloway repeatedly noted that all three shots were fired into the ground.
“But one slip or stumble, you don’t know. … You don’t shoot at a state trooper,” Patterson said. “I was scared.”
Minerd fled after the shooting. State police arrested him a few hours later about two miles from the camper.
Galloway unsuccessfully argued that Eckels should dismiss the aggravated assault, simple assault and terroristic threat charges because no one was injured and “all the testimony here is that all three shots were fired into the ground.”
DeFloria noted that Minerd “was yelling and screaming” before he fired multiple shots.
“Your honor, he fired three shots in the vicinity of three people after yelling and screaming at them. He’s threatening them by his actions,” DeFloria said.
Eckels approved a request from Galloway to lower Minerd’s bond from $250,000 to $100,000. If Minerd makes bail, he was instructed that he have no contact with the victims and would be placed on home electronic monitoring until his trial.