Hearing waived in Noxen shooting
BY ROBERT L. BAKER
and PATRICK LEONARD
Wyoming County Press Examiner
TUNKHANNOCK – The man charged with the Aug. 12 shooting of a carload of persons looking at a windmill being constructed had his day in court Monday afternoon.
However, Wade Douglas Wright, 42, of Copper Kettle Park, Tunkhannock, chose to waive his rights to the preliminary hearing and let attorney Deborah Albert-Heise speak for him.
She told Magisterial District Judge Carl Smith that Wright just wanted to put the whole episode behind him.
Wright initially told investigators that he was not involved in a shooting that injured a Susquehanna County woman.
However, a 22-caliber pistol was found inside Wright’s 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.
Court documents say 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.
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 after taking the final picture, everyone got into his jeep and traveled back down the mountain.
Weeks and his passengers had an encounter with a man, later identified as Wright who told them, “You better be going.”
Weeks began to drive away, but noted in the rear view 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.
McClaine was treated and later taken away by medical helicopter, but is now recovering.
“She is doing better, but still has some issues,” District attorney Jeff Mitchell said on Monday.
The DA also added some new charges against Wright.
On Aug. 14, five felony counts of aggravated assault were filed, accounting for each of the vehicle’s occupants.
However, Mitchell modified that to be two aggravated assault counts, one for each shot fired, and then another pair of aggravated assault charges because a deadly weapon was used.
Five original misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment, however, stand.
In addition the DA also added more misdemeanor charges: seven counts of simple assault, five counts of terroristic threats, one count of propelling missile into an occupied vehicle and one count of a criminal attempt to propel a missile into an occupied vehicle.
Wright’s formal arraignment in Wyoming County Court is now set for Nov. 2.
Bail remains at $250,000, and Wright was returned to the Wyoming County Correctional Facility.