York Today Red Lion man killed, bear hunter wounded in quarrel over trespassing
JESSICA ANDERSON The York Dispatch
Updated: 11/25/2009 10:26:23 AM EST
Frank N. Shaffer
An argument over trespassing apparently sparked a shootout in rural northern Pennsylvania Tuesday that left a landowner from Red Lion dead and a member of a bear-hunting party hospitalized with a gunshot wound, police said.
Investigators were trying to sort out the details of the incident near Summerville, but charges are expected, Trooper Bruce Morris said. He said at least four shots were fired.
"From what side to who, who shot first — they're going through that process to try to determine it," Morris said.
The property is located in a remote area off Patton Road in Beaver Township, Jefferson County, according to state police in Punxsutawney.
Morris said Frank N. Shaffer, 63, of the first block of South Main Street in Red Lion, was killed after he apparently confronted a group of four or five bear hunters about trespassing or walking across the land he owns with family members.
Paul H. Plyler, 23, of Summerville was shot once and taken by a private vehicle to a hospital in nearby Brookville, police said. Morris said Plyler was transferred to a Pittsburgh hospital, but his injuries were not considered life-threatening.
Summerville is about 15 miles from Punxsutawney and about 60 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Morris described the scene of the shooting as very remote.
Jefferson County Coroner Bernard P. Snyder said an autopsy was planned for Wednesday, and state police said the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office and the state Game Commission are also investigating. Previous dispute:
Shaffer was involved in another dispute in August 2006, when he and a tractor-trailer driver got into a roadside altercation on Interstate 83 because each believed the other had cut him off.
Both drivers eventually pulled their vehicles to the side of the road. Shaffer pointed a gun at the tractor-trailer driver when the tractor-trailer driver began running toward Shaffer, screaming profanities and threatening to kill him, according to a lawsuit later filed by Shaffer when his concealed weapons permit was revoked after the incident.
The tractor-trailer driver pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for his role in the incident, according to the lawsuit. Shaffer was charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment and harassment. The charges against Shaffer were dismissed when the tractor-trailer driver did not appear to testify.
After the incident, then York County Sheriff Bill Hose refused to reinstate Shaffer's concealed firearms permit, according to Shaffer's lawsuit.
Shaffer filed the federal lawsuit in July against Hose and York County, arguing that his Second Amendment right to bear arms had been violated, and he sought a court order forcing the county to issue him a valid, usable concealed firearms permit, damages and attorney fees.
While Shaffer was issued a new license after the I-83 incident, at the top and bottom of his picture is a statement that reads "return by order of court," according to the lawsuit. Hose was no longer in office at the time.
Shaffer, a real estate appraiser, said he needed to carry a gun for self-protection while examining properties in dangerous neighborhoods. The Associated Press, the Punxsutawney Spirit and staff writer Elizabeth Evans contributed to this report. Reach Jessica Anderson at 505-5434 or firstname.lastname@example.org.