Police: Apparent argument led to fatal Franklin County shooting

May 27, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT, Pa. -- An apparent argument between neighbors in Washington Township, Pa., left one man dead from a gunshot wound and another man in jail early Thursday.

Steven Wetzel, 47, was pronounced dead outside 13799 Blue Ridge Ave., at 2:06 a.m., township police said in a news release.

Police charged Michael Peter Harrigan, 29, of that address, with criminal homicide. He was being held in Franklin County (Pa.) Jail without bail.

"I still can't get my head around this," neighbor Megan Brown said.

Megan, 15, said she awoke at 2 a.m. when she heard her mother moving around in their house.

"She was crying, and she was trying to be quiet. She said, 'Steve died,' and it took a couple of minutes, then it hit me really hard," Megan said.


Police said they were called to Blue Ridge Avenue at 1:13 a.m. to investigate a report of a shooting. One of the first officers on the scene reported seeing a man in the roadway and determined he was dead, police said.

Franklin County (Pa.) Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner was called to the scene and pronounced Wetzel dead.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, police said they talked to Harrigan as he was detained.

"We were arguing, and I shot him once," police allege Harrigan told them.

Later, Harrigan was interviewed at the police station, where he admitted during a recorded interview to shooting Wetzel with a shotgun, police allege in the affidavit.

Police retrieved the firearm from the home, the affidavit states.

Harrigan's preliminary hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, according to Magisterial District Judge David Hawbaker's office, where the criminal charge was filed.

Megan said she considered Wetzel to be like an uncle, and her 5-year-old brother, Ryan, was close with Harrigan. The men lived a couple of properties apart, she said.

"You never hear anything bad about this neighborhood. It's weird to think of this happening," Megan said.

The homes sit a few hundred feet north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

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