Expecting trouble: Victims went to house with baseball bats

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A MAN AND his son who were shot Saturday night in a rural, hilly corner of Montgomery County had come looking for a fight, authorities said yesterday.

Joshua Levin, 34, and his adopted son, Zachary Levin, 19, of Barto, Berks County, had brought baseball bats to a split-level house on Snyder Road, in Upper Frederick Township, and didn't back down when faced with a loaded handgun.

Zachary Levin, a student at Boyertown Area Senior High School, was fatally shot, and Joshua Levin was shot in the arm, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said in a news release.

The resident, who was not identified, allegedly had argued with his girlfriend, who is also Joshua Levin's wife, and she called Levin to come and get her, Ferman said. When the Levins arrived, Ferman said, they were wielding an aluminum bat and a small, wooden replica bat.

The resident, Ferman said, retreated to his Ford pickup, retrieved a Ruger .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun that he legally owned and tried to back the Levins off.

But the gun didn't seem to faze the men, who continued to poke the resident and hit his truck, eventually trapping him, Ferman said. The resident allegedly struck Joshua Levin in the front of his head with the handgun to back him off, Ferman said. Still, they advanced.

After Zachary Levin allegedly hit the resident, the man fired and struck him in the chest. While Joshua Levin was poised with the bat, Ferman said, the resident shot him in the arm. The shooter, after taking the bat away, called 9-1-1, Ferman said.

Ferman said that a neighbor recalled hearing a loud exchange and a person threatening to call the police.

"A second person responded to the first person saying, 'Go ahead' and call the police," she said in the news release.

Neighbors in the wooded neighborhood told the Daily News on Sunday night that they hadn't noticed the incident until police arrived.

The D.A.'s office is investigating whether the homicide was justifiable. The shooter was questioned and released.

Ferman's release said that the case may fall under the "stand your ground" provision of the "Castle Doctrine" Act that took effect in August.

"Under the current Castle Doctrine, a person has the legal right to use deadly force if he believes such force is necessary to protect himself from death or serious bodily injury, the person shot displayed a weapon capable of deadly use and the shooter is not engaged in criminal activity," Ferman said. "Under the new law, a shooter has no duty to retreat in most circumstances."