MOUNT CARMEL — A teenager charged in a Thanksgiving Day shooting in Kulpmont, who has denied any involvement in the incident, was held for court Wednesday on multiple charges including felonies of aggravated assault and possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon.
Dashawn Andrew Coward, 19, of Pottsville, was ordered by Senior Magisterial District Judge Richard Cashman to appear for a status conference Jan. 22 in Northumberland County Court of Common Pleas.
The judge’s ruling followed an hour-long hearing that included a motion by defense attorney Jacob A. Gurwitz, of Reading, to dismiss one of the felonies after testimony was presented by three witnesses, including the victim, Archie Moore, 36, of 648 Spruce St., Kulpmont.
Cashman took a 15-minute recess to research the law when Gurwitz argued that possession of a firearm while being a convicted felon should be dismissed because his client was never convicted of a felony offense as an adult. Gurwitz said Coward was adjudicated delinquent on a charge of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance on Sept. 9, 2015, when he was 17 years old, which he claimed isn’t the same as a conviction in adult court.
Northumberland County Assistant District Attorney William Cole argued that being adjudicated delinquent is equivalent to a conviction in adult court and counts toward calculating a defendant’s prior record score.
Upon reconvening court, Cashman denied Gurwitz’s motion and allowed the charge to stand. According to his interpretation of the law, Cashman said Coward being adjudicated delinquent on the felony offense falls under the statute involving convictions.
Moore testified that he was preparing Thanksgiving dinner for his family at their home around noon when he discovered his stepdaughter, Breeze McCabe, and her 10-month-old boy running out the back door of the house. Moore said he then pursued his stepdaughter and her son before reaching Walnut and Eighth streets about a block away from their home.
At that time, Moore said he spotted McCabe and the child getting into the rear of a black sport utility vehicle. The victim said he was within five feet of the vehicle when shot by Coward through the rear passenger side window.
Moore said he was struck twice in the left thigh area and positively identified Coward as the shooter.
He said the SUV, which also had two people sitting in the front seat, fled on Eighth Street.
The victim told the court that he knows Coward, who is the father of his stepdaugher’s son. Moore said he never had a problem with Coward and there was no hostility between them. He testified that he had no idea why Coward shot him.
Moore said he heard “three or four pops,” but didn’t realize right away that he had been hit in the leg until seeing blood. The victim said he attempted to try walking back to his home, but was unable to do so due to his wounds that he attempted to place a tourniquet around to stop the bleeding.
He said neighbors assisted him with his injuries before emergency medical services personnel arrived.
Moore said he was a patient at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville for one day and didn’t require surgery, although he remains on pain medication and off work.
Kulpmont Police Chief Patrick McAndrew said he discovered Moore lying on Walnut Street while bleeding profusely from his leg at 1:45 p.m. He said the victim told him “Dashawn” shot him.
After obtaining a description of the vehicle used in the shooting and learning the last name of the suspect, McAndrew said police sent out a “BOLO” (Be On The Lookout) for the SUV, which was later stopped by police in Pottsville and impounded. The vehicle was occupied by an adult, two juveniles and an infant. Coward was not among the occupants.
The police chief said three 9mm spent casings were found on the ground and a trail of blood was detected from Eighth to Walnut streets.
Kulpmont Patrolman Nathan Foust, who filed the charges against Coward, identified the SUV as a 2001 Hyundai sport utility vehicle registered to Coward. He testified that the shooting occurred in a residential area containing many homes.
Foust said the gun allegedly used in the shooting hasn’t been found.
Gurwitz didn’t call any defense witnesses.
When asked for comment after the hearing, Gurwitz said, “Archie Moore is no angel and his story doesn’t make sense.”
Before the hearing, the attorney told a newspaper reporter that Moore was previously convicted of two felonies of criminal trespass in Schuylkill County.
Cole reserved comment about the judge’s ruling.
Upon turning himself into police Nov. 27, Coward claimed he was innocent of all charges.
He is charged with two counts of aggravated assault and simple assault and one count each of terroristic threats, possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon, recklessly endangering other people and endangering the welfare of a child.
Coward was recommitted to the Northumberland County Prison division at SCI-Coal Township in lieu of $300,000 cash bail after Cashman denied Gurwitz’s motion to reduce his bail. Cole opposed any bail reduction due to the gravity of the charges.