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Man cited for firearms charge in shooting

February 23, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - A Chambersburg man who shot a man last week apparently did so unintentionally and has been cited for violating a borough ordinance against discharging a firearm, according to police and Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson.

Ronald L. Keith, 60, of 547 Oak St., shot Christopher C. Darby, 18, as Darby and another person were attempting to remove property from a vehicle behind Keith's residence at 11:14 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16, Chambersburg police alleged.

The summary violation filed with District Justice Gary Carter's office carries a maximum penalty of $75 or 30 days in jail. Nelson said Keith can dispose of the citation by paying the fine and does not have to appear at a hearing unless he wishes to contest the charge.

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"The facts indicate that it was unintentional that he struck Mr. Darby," Nelson said of Keith. "I believe it was his intent to scare Mr. Darby."

A person at Keith's house Tuesday afternoon said Keith had no comment on the incident.

Darby was struck in the arm by pellets from a 20-gauge shotgun, police said. He was admitted to Chambersburg Hospital and was released the next day and jailed in Franklin County Prison on $50,000 bond.

Darby was charged with theft from a motor vehicle, attempted theft, possession of instruments of crime and loitering and prowling at night. A preliminary hearing for Darby scheduled for Tuesday was continued to March 1, according to court records. When he was taken into custody, he had gloves, a screwdriver and a pocketknife on him, police said.

Nelson said Tuesday a vehicle behind Keith's house had been broken into within a few days prior to the shooting and "he and his wife were concerned about criminal activity near their house."

When Keith confronted two people removing property from the vehicle, the two began to run away, but Darby stopped and turned toward Keith, according to Nelson. Keith aimed at the ground in front of Darby, who slipped and fell into the line of fire, Nelson said.

"Darby said he did not think Mr. Keith was trying to hit him" when interviewed by police, Nelson said. After the shooting, Keith took Darby around to the front of the house and called police, the affidavit of probable cause said.

Borough police said the incident was reviewed by the district attorney's office and Nelson said aggravated assault was "immediately ruled out." His office also explored the possibility of charging Keith with recklessly endangering another person, but "his conduct did not rise to the level of reckless behavior as defined under the crimes code."

Detective Jon Greenawalt said no charges had been filed against the person who was with Darby. That person is a juvenile and police were still investigating the case, he said.

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