Man who allegedly told brother, 12, to grab assault rifle in Bridesburg dispute to face trial

A judge on Thursday held a 19-year-old Bridesburg man for trial after he and his 12-year-old brother allegedly wielded a handgun and an assault-style rifle last month during a dispute with neighbors.

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Michael Mitchell

Michael Mitchell had told his younger brother to grab Mitchell’s Diamondback DB15, an AR-15-style rifle, from their house, authorities said.

Mitchell had legally purchased the rifle, said his attorney, Dennis Turner, but Assistant District Attorney Catherine Smith said he did not have a license to carry it. Authorities are seeking to trace its origin, Smith said after a preliminary hearing in Family Court. Both lawyers said Mitchell served in the National Guard.

Common Pleas Court Judge James Murray Lynn held Mitchell for trial on all charges, including terroristic threats, gun offenses, and corruption of a minor.

The incident made news because a 12-year-old boy was carrying an assault-style rifle on a residential block.

The motive for the dispute was not clear at the hearing, which featured just one witness. Joseph Krause, of the 2200 block of Kennedy Street, testified that about 6:15 p.m. April 7, his daughter answered a knock at their door. Krause said he saw Mitchell, who lives on the block, standing by Mitchell’s car parked across the street.

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Officer Krzysztof Wrzesinski holds the assault-style rifle and handgun recovered after the Bridesburg incident.

Mitchell held a gun and was asking for Krause’s 22-year-old son, who wasn’t at home, Krause said. His wife called 911.

Mitchell told his brother to go home and grab another gun, Krause said.

“He returned with an assault rifle,” Krause said. “We all laughed and thought it was a BB gun or paintball gun.” When he pulled out the clip, it became apparent it was an assault rifle, Krause said.

The boy threw the rifle into the car, and when police arrived, Mitchell threw the handgun in, Krause said.

No one was injured. The boy was found delinquent on gun charges in a trial last week and was placed in a juvenile facility, Smith said. Mitchell remains in custody in lieu of $20,000 bail.

At least three other recent incidents in the region involved assault-style weapons or ammunition.

Police on May 8 released surveillance video of a man suspected of shooting and critically injuring a West Philadelphia beer deli owner with an AK-47 three days earlier. The 50-year-old shop owner was washing his car when the man tried to push him into the store in an attempt to rob it, police said.

Last month, an Abington man frightened residents when he was spotted with an AR-15. And in March, an 18-year-old exchange student from Taiwan was arrested for allegedly threatening to “shoot up” a Roman Catholic high school in Drexel Hill. Police said that more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition and a 9mm Glock handgun were found in connection with the student, who lived in Lansdowne. The 1,600 rounds included ammunition for the Glock as well as for an AK-47, an AR-15, and a shotgun, police said.