BEDFORD, Pa. — An aggravated assault charge was dropped on Wednesday against a Schellsburg-area man accused of shooting a Wisconsin civil rights activist last summer during a Black Lives Matter march through Bedford County.
Judge H. Cyril Bingham tossed the felony charge against Terry Myers, 51, following a five-hour preliminary hearing.
The judge also dismissed a charge of simple assault. District Attorney Lesley Childers-Potts withdrew a charge of criminal mischief.
Bingham bound over charges of reckless endangerment and harassment.
Myers will still stand trial for the Aug. 24 shooting of Orsino Thurman, 37, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“There’s a sense of relief that the most serious charges are gone,” Myers’ attorney, Matt Zatko, of Somerset, said.
“But there is a level of disappointment they weren’t all dismissed.”
About 30 activists from Wisconsin were traveling on foot and in vehicles to Washington, D.C., for the March to Washington 2020 event when they stopped in the 800 block of Lincoln Highway in Schellsburg.
State police in Bedford said there was an exchange of gunfire between the activists and Myers after they parked on his father Elmer’s parking lot — and across the road from Elmer Myers’ house.
Thurman was hit with birdshot and taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown were he was treated and released.
Prosecutors subpoenaed 19 of the BLM group but only four showed to give testimony.
They told the court that about 12 vehicles stopped in a gravel parking lot unaware it was private property before they were confronted by Myers.
State Trooper Adam Zinn said Myers fired two warning shots. After cross examination by Zatko, Zinn testified that Thurman was shot after he had fired two rounds at Elmer and Terry Myers.
Zatko told the court that Myers was acting in self-defense.
“It’s unequivocal today that the first shot fired at anyone during the incident that evening were fired by Mr. Thurman,” he said.
Troopers recovered a shotgun, shotgun shells, and a 9mm pistol and a 9mm shell casing.
Thurman’s DNA was on the pistol and the gun’s magazine.
Thurman did not appear for the hearing.
He faces charges including two counts of simple assault and two counts of reckless endangerment. Because he is a convicted felon, Thurman also was charged with illegally possessing a firearm.
Childers-Potts was did not comment after the hearing.