Man charged in Noxen shooting
BY ROBERT L. BAKER
Wyoming County Press Examiner
A 42-year-old Tunkhannock man was arraigned Tuesday morning on charges that he shot a 58-year-old woman whom he believed was trespassing on his property Sunday night.
Wade Douglas Wright of Copper Kettle Park, initially told investigators Monday night that he had become aware of a female being shot the night before after a friend identified in a police criminal complaint as ‘Leslie’ called him on the telephone.
At that time Wright told state police he “was not involved in the shooting and was not aware who could have shot the female.”
Court papers say that Wright did, however, acknowledge being in a state of shock after “Leslie’s” phone call Sunday.
Investigators told Wright a 22-caliber pistol was found inside his residence, and he then told them that he possessed the same pistol at his Antler Rod & Gun Club cabin the same night the shooting took place.
The complaint notes that Wright then admitted firing rounds from the pistol towards an occupied vehicle which he believed to be trespassing on his property.
Wright said that he was riding a light green Polaris all-terrain vehicle when he encountered a Jeep Wrangler, and got off his ATV.
According to the complaint, he was then about 50 yards from the occupied Jeep.
The owner and driver of the Jeep, Thomas Anthony Weeks, told authorities he had just purchased the vehicle and took his wife, nephew and two sisters-in-law for a ride to see the Mehoopany windmill project, an 88-wind turbine farm developed by BP Wind Energy, and whose first windmill was completed Aug. 6.
Weeks said he had taken a dozen images of a windmill site and the last one had a time stamped of 19:37.
After taking the final picture, everyone got into his jeep and traveled back down the mountain.
The complaint notes that after about three-quarters of a mile, Weeks observed a man on an ATV in the middle of the road.
Weeks said he could see the man – later identified as Wright – unsnap the flap on his holster to reveal the grip on a pistol.
At that point Weeks stopped the Jeep.
Weeks told authorities that Wright approached the Jeep and then stated, “I’m not asking you to stop. I’m telling you to stop.”
Wright then approached the passenger side of the vehicle and said, “You are on private property. You better be going.”
Weeks’ wife told Wright they were leaving.
At that point Weeks began to drive away, but noted in the review mirror the man who had just confronted them was removing the pistol from his holster and aiming it towards the vehicle as he was driving away.
Weeks told authorities he remembered one round being fired that missed, and then after a second shot, he felt a bump in the back of his car seat.
He then heard his sister-in-law Mary Josephine McClaine of Clifford yell, “Oh my God” while slumping over into another sister-in-law’s arms.
Weeks said he then “floored it” and his wife called 911.
At the bottom of the hill, they met an ambulance at the corner of Main Street and School Road in Noxen, where medical personnel tended to McClaine’s injuries.
She was later taken away by medical helicopter and the extent of her injuries is unknown.
The complaint also noted that on Monday, investigators had been contacted by a Joseph Curtis Newell who had heard about the shooting on the news, and he related that he had also had an encounter with the person who matched the alleged shooter’s description who told him that he, too, was trespassing on his property earlier on August 12.
Wright told investigators that after he learned that one of the occupants in the Jeep he shot towards was struck by a bullet, he was worried all day about what he had done the prior day.
According to the complaint, he told police, “If you talk to the woman that was shot tell her I’m sorry.”
After he was arrested for aggravated assault and advised of his rights, Wright indicated Monday that he wanted to show police where he fired at the victims.
Wright was transported up the mountain and at the end of a path indicated he would have to walk another 100 yards to a path toward the windmill project. At the end of the path was a windmill site identified as D-54.
It is near there that Wright indicated he shot at the victims.
Wright was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge David Plummer in Factoryville around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, and in addition to five felony counts of aggravated assault, he also faces five misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment.
Judge Plummer set bail at $250,000.
Unable to post bail, Wright was remanded to the Wyoming County jail.
His preliminary hearing before Judge Carl Smith will be on August 22.