How a motorcylist dispute sparked a shooting
Members of a motorcycle group in Western Broome County form a divide over whether some should join the Hells Angels club. One man gets kicked out of the group and at some point, a shotgun is fired in West Corners.
Prosecutors say the man who got kicked out of the motorcycle club, along with a dog, were injured in the shooting.
The chain of events that escalated into the Sept. 24 shooting on Carl Street in West Corners and a lengthy investigation by state police that resulted in four arrests has only been partly revealed by prosecutors in a public courtroom. More of the story will be presented to a jury when an attempted murder trial for Paul Warner begins Feb. 14 in Broome County Court
Forming the prosecution's theory: an alleged feud among motorcyclists escalated into a near-deadly shooting near a quiet residential area seated not far from the Route 26 highway. Troopers say an altercation took place on Carl Street prior to the shots being fired.
A grand jury has indicted Warner for felony counts of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted assault, along with second-degree assault, and a misdemeanor count of injuring an animal. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and if convicted, he could be sentenced to as much as 25 years in state prison.
Chief Assistant Public Defender Mike Baker, who represents Warner in court, said, "Our position is one of self-defense."
Prosecutor Kevin Cheung shed light on the alleged motive for the shooting during a Feb. 1 pretrial hearing in front of Broome County Court Judge Kevin Dooley, contending the victim was kicked out of a local "Flesh and Blood" motorcycle club after a rift formed between members over whether to join the Hells Angels.
The Hells Angels are known as a worldwide motorcycle club and its members are typically riders of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. It was started in California in 1948 and police agencies have come to classify the Hells Angels as among four nationwide "motorcycle gangs" that have been involved in an array of criminal activities — the organization maintains it is simply a group of motorcycle enthusiasts.
Countering part of the prosecution's theory during a Feb. 1 pretrial hearing, Chief Assistant Public Defender Mike Baker said Warner's affiliation with any motorcycle group should not be inherently construed as "nefarious," in presenting this case to a jury.
In court, Dooley said some evidence about the motorcycle group is critical to the prosecution's case — otherwise the circumstances surrounding shooting itself make no sense.
Though authorities have released few details about their alleged roles in the incident, three other men face charges connected to it:
- John L. Frey, 42, of Binghamton, was charged with a felony count of attempted second-degree assault.
- Kevin Standish, 45, of Endicott, was arrested on a felony charge of tampering with physical evidence.
- Peter M. Gumaer, 59, of Harpursville, was charged with a misdemeanor count of fourth-degree criminal mischief.
Court papers say Warner fired one round of live ammunition from a shotgun directly at 50-year-old Timothy Mancini, while at 112 Carl St., in West Corners.
The shotgun round struck the victim in the torso and facial area, court papers say, leaving him severely injured. Mancini was treated for his injuries at UHS Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City.
Prosecutors have accused Warner of acting "under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life," and court papers for the attempted murder charge allege he engaged in conduct that "creates a grave risk of death to another person."
After state troopers were called to the scene of the shooting and began investigating the incident, Warner was brought to the trooper barracks in Endwell and spoke with investigators for about 20 minutes starting just before 11:30 that same evening.
Warner did not appear in any mental distress, nor was he under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to testimony in court Feb. 1 by state police Investigator Shawn Dean, who interviewed the defendant that night.
"I'm in shock myself about everything that happened," Warner told the investigator during the interview, a portion of which was played aloud in court during the pretrial hearing.
In court, Cheung has alluded to a few details he anticipates to be included in the prosecution's case:
- The victim claims Warner's truck drove by his house sometime before the shooting and someone in the vehicle pointed a gun out the window.
- A confrontation between the victim and others ensued at the motorcycle group's clubhouse.
- The victim would testify about being kicked out of the club and a rift between its members culminated into this shooting incident.
Dean says Warner was advised of his Miranda rights — the "right to silence" warning police give criminal suspects in custody or in a custodial interrogation beforehand to preserve the admissibility of the suspect's statements against him or her in court — and after a roughly 20-minute interview, the defendant asked for a lawyer.
After hearing arguments and brief testimony in court Feb. 1, Dooley determined Warner had offered state police a voluntary statement during that 20-minute interview, and there was nothing to suggest anything improper had happened to affect the defendant's willingness to speak to investigators.
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