Sunday, February 7, 2016

Man arrested in shooting of child in Pottstown

Wayne Snowden, 55. Chester County District Attorney's Office

A suspect has been arrested in connection with a shooting that wounded an 8-year-old boy in Pottstown Friday evening.

Wayne Snowden, 55, apparently fired off a random gunshot that struck the child shortly before 5 p.m. as he rode his bicycle near West Main Street and Coyne Alley, officials said. The boy was shot in the left thigh and flown by helicopter to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“I want to reassure the community that the victim in this case was not specifically targeted," North Coventry Township Police Chief Bob Schurr said in a statement praising investigators for the speedy arrest. "This was a case of irresponsible gun handling in its most tragic form."

Just before the gunfire broke out, Snowden was standing on the porch of his home at 301 S. Hanover St., which faces the area where the boy was shot, according to a criminal complaint.

Police said Snowden was speaking with two men near the door to the residence while holding a gun in his hand. He allegedly raised the handgun and fired a single shot, striking the child.

“An eight-year-old boy out riding his bike with a buddy on a warm spring evening in Chester County should not have to worry that he is going to be shot,” Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said in a statement. “The defendant was extraordinarily reckless.” 

After determining the shot came from the direction of Snowden's home, investigators went to the property to interview him, police said. Snowden allegedly gave a detective permission to examine a Glock handgun he owned.

When the detective racked the weapon's slide, it expelled a spent 9mm casing, the criminal complaint states. Snowden's brother reportedly told police that Snowden collects guns and shoots them in the basement of his home.

Police said they recovered two handguns from Snowden’s residence and took the suspect into custody. He is charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and related offenses.

“The right to own firearms includes the responsibility to handle firearms safely,” Hogan said. “We are all grateful that this innocent child was not killed just a couple of days before Mother’s Day.”

Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; Follow @phillynews on Twitter.
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