Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Schuylkyll River Trail in Pennsylvania

Sebastian recently posted about a shooting that took place on this trail in Pennsylvania. It was an interesting case of a man defending himself with a gun.
Some of you might remember the case of a guy who was assaulted by some kids on the Schuylkyll River Trail while on bicycle, and took a few shots at them after they began fleeing with the legally licensed pocket 380 he was carrying with him on the trail. I covered this case here, here and here.

The shooter was lucky enough not to have killed anyone, some suggested it was on purpose, which, of course, would violate any number of rules. His luck held out in court as well. Not only was he not severely punished for such reckless gun behavior as shooting at fleeing
teenagers on bikes, but he made a great plea bargain for himself, one which will enable him to preserve his precious gun rights.

Well, imagine my surprise, when I clicked on The Armed Citizen and read this story, which also took place on the Schuylkyll River Trail.

Man shoots at dog, owner cited for leash law

A dog owner was cited for not having his dog on a leash after a pedestrian on the Schuylkill River Trail in Norristown shot at the animal claiming it had charged at him Sunday morning.

After Cpl. David Brooke heard gunfire around 6:12 a.m., he went to the trail near Markley Street and encountered 27-year-old William Lee Bennett, who admitted shooting at a dog, according to Norristown Police Department.

Bennett said after he crossed the bridge over Markley Street on the way to the Norristown Transportation Center, he spotted a dog running free that was growling in a threatening manner and headed in his direction. Fearing he would be attacked, he fired at the animal with a Glock brand handgun.

Shooting at a dog or other animals threatening to attack a domestic pet or person is legal in Pennsylvania; however, as a precaution, Brooke took the man’s gun and pepper spray he was carrying.

Seconds after the dog’s owner heard gunfire, Kenyatta Spruill, 33, told police his Shepherd mix dog came running back to him near the path; however, Bennett didn’t see Spruill until after firing at the animal, according to police.

What is it with that trail? It sounds like it gets more than its share of gun play. What do you think?

Would this one be considered a legitimate DGU? Don't you think counting things like this is a way of padding the results in the favor of DGUs? I mean, this is a far cry from killing someone who's attacking you with a machete. Am I right?

Did you notice the guy had a Glock and pepper spray? Maybe he's been reading Sebastian who does the same thing. What do you think?

Please leave a comment.


  1. Isn't this park part of the Montgomery County Parks?

    They prohibit possession and transport of firearms (rule 2).

    OK, the rule says: "Except under special conditions established by the Department of Parks and Heritage Services". Not sure if that means carry permits are exempted.

    But, if carry permits aren't exempted, then this person is violating park rules.

    Montco is increasing police presence on the trails in response to these incidents.

    Personally, I'd shoot the owner for having the dog off a lead rather than the dog. Since the dog isn't the one who is supposed to be the responsible one.

    Laci away from my home computer

  2. I just read Sebastian's piece on this. Sebastian says the Montco rules are preempted. But this touches on what my beef with MikeW points out: even though a local ordinance my be "preempted" there are other ways you can be charged.

    Likewise, the first person will probably be denied a carry permit on renewal (and possibly have his current carry permit revoked).

    In the brass tacks world, the montco rule may be preempted, but it would cost a fair amount of money to challenge that ruling: $5-20k for CP phase, $20k+ for Superior Court appeal, another $20k+ for supreme court appeal.

    It is usally lost that one of my complaints about DC v. Heller is that it was bankrolled by the Cato Foundation. I would put money down that Dick Heller could not have afforded a US Supreme Court appeal and possibly even the DC Appeal.

    Bottom line, even if you are "right" it will cost to prove that point.

  3. Hey look, a perfect example of PA Statewide preemption.

    Montgomery County Parks ordinance is not enforcable as it preempted by State law.

    See the thread & the response of the County Solicitor.


    We had similar issues here in DE, where a New Castle County parks ordinance prohibited open carry of firearms. The ordinance was in violation of DE preemption laws but it had never been changed.

    Our county commissioner realized the ordinance violated state law and he had it taken off the books.

    Another article referencing Montgomery County's ordinance here.


    If county police were to arrest someone for carrying in the parks the arrest would be thrown out immediately by the State AG's office since the ordinance prohibiting carry is NOT valid law.

    Ah, good old nasty, violent Laci. Advocating killing a man for having his dog off-leash.

    Personally, I'd shoot the owner for having the dog off a lead rather than the dog. Since the dog isn't the one who is supposed to be the responsible one

    Why are anti-gunners so violent?

  4. As much as it pains me to think about shooting a dog, the owner isnt the threat.
    You're advocating murder AND getting bitten.

    Note however that the shooter had pepper spray, why didn't he use that? Spray that in front of you (making a sort of "wall of smell bad") and not shoot at the dog unless it ignores it. That would be much better for all parties involved.

  5. I see Laci supports localities breaking the law.

    Why am I not surprised?

  6. I used to call the trail the rust belt tour when I biked it a few times a week, back when I had more time for physical fitness (I don't as much now, and it shows, unfortunately).

    It travels along the river through Norristown and Philadelphia. It is by no means dangerous, but if you travel it enough you'll see more than your fair share of nonsense. On one occasion, kids were throwing rocks from above the trail down onto joggers and cyclists. Fortunately they didn't hit me, but a few people they narrowly missed were off to the side calling police. I've seen people hanging out near the trail I wouldn't exactly say fit the profile of your average jogger or cyclist.

    Like I said, not dangerous, not like cycling through West or North Philly, but there's plenty of reasons to take precautions, and I suspect I'm not the only one who feels that way, given you have had two incidents in a short period of time. Both incidents were arguably self-defense, but the former obviously not once he took shots at fleeing attackers. But they were attackers, based on what came out afterwards.

  7. "Why are anti-gunners so violent?"

    I think you'll find your answer in the reverse of your question: "Why are some violent people so anti-gun?"

    It's because they are still competent enough to realize they are a danger to themselves and others. Unfortunately, they project their personal issues onto everyone else.

    "Don't you think counting things like this is a way of padding the results in the favor of DGUs?"


    Because had either of these people shot at an innocent party, the gun controllers would be quick to describe these events as crimes committed by CCW holders.

  8. Sebastian said, "but there's plenty of reasons to take precautions, and I suspect I'm not the only one who feels that way, given you have had two incidents in a short period of time."

    Yes plenty of reason to take precautions, but not to carry a gun. These two incidents are proof of that. Dealing with teenage hoodlums and unleashed dogs is something everybody has to do from time to time. Carrying a gun in response to those things is excessive.

    I know, "what if..." and "what if..."

    Maybe it's time to come back to reality.

  9. Teenage hoodlums are probably the best reason to carry a gun. They're young, dumb, dangerous, and travel in packs. Just as bad, if not worse than a pack of unleashed dogs.