Sunbury police: Man fired shot at girlfriend
SUNBURY - A city man accused of attempted homicide after allegedly firing a gun in the direction of his girlfriend Thursday morning said he was trying to kill himself, not her.
Aaron Keith Brannon, 28, of 129 Chestnut St., Apartment 1, told Magisterial District Judge Benjamin Apfelbaum, Sunbury, during his arraignment at approximately noon that his grandfather died last Friday and he's been depressed since a different breakup two years ago.
"The intent was never to shoot her. The intent was to shoot myself," said Brannon, who was handcuffed and dressed in dirty jeans, a white T-shirt and tan shoes.
Apfelbaum said an arraignment is not the place
to determine whether he is guilty of the charges, but whether he understands the charges against him.
Brannon is incarcerated at Northumberland County Prison on $125,000 secured bail on four felonies, including one count of attempted criminal homicide, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of possessing a firearm as a former convict; and four misdemeanors, including one count of terroristic threats, possessing instruments of crime, prohibited offensive weapons and recklessly endangering another person.
The charges were filed by Sunbury Patrolman Stephen Bennick.
The victim's name was redacted on the affidavit, and Apfelbaum said that's common practice. Sunbury police were not able to confirm the victim's name on Thursday.
The attempted homicide provides an inauspicious start to 2014 for Sunbury, which in 2013 dealt with the high-profile cases of Naheem Reams, the teenager shot and critically wounded by police after a high-speed chase, and Elytte and Miranda Barbour, the newlywed couple charged with homicide in the stabbing death of Troy LaFerrara.
'You think I'm playing?'
At 1 a.m. Thursday, police said the victim told Bennick at the police station that she broke up with Brannon due to infidelity. She said he pointed a gun in her direction and fired it inside their apartment at 12:45 a.m.
She believed the bullet hit a wall in their bedroom and her ear was still ringing from the gunshot, she told police.
Bennick described the woman as "visibly shaken and highly upset."
The woman told police she was sitting on the bed and Brannon, who she said was intoxicated and angry, was standing at the foot of the bed when they began arguing.
The woman told police Brannon asked her several times when she was leaving the apartment, but she said she had school and her name was on the lease.
At that point, police said Brannon removed a black handgun that was tucked in his waistband and said, "You think I'm playing?" before cocking the gun, raising it toward the woman and firing it in her direction.
The woman told police Brennan picked up the casing and asked her again when she was leaving, to which she asked what would happen if she didn't leave.
"You will find out if you're still here when I get back," he said, according to police.
Police find bullet hole
Brannon left the apartment and drove off in a burgundy Oldsmobile, which is when the woman went to police to tell them she was in fear for her life. The woman gave a key and permission to police to enter the apartment.
Officers checked the master bedroom where the gun was fired and found a piece of wood chipped on the headboard, a hole in the window blinds and a bullet hole through a single-pane window and storm window.
Outside, officers found a fresh indentation on the brick on the west side of a residence at 135 Chestnut St., approximately 7 to 8 feet off the ground and just across the alley from 129 Chestnut St.
Brannon was escorted into Apfelbaum's courtroom Thursday afternoon by Bennick, Sgt. Christopher Blaze and Patrolman Travis Bremigen.
Brannon was visibly distraught. He placed his head on the table on top of his copy of the criminal charges and at times in his cuffed hands. He also sighed several times and rubbed his face.
He asked Apfelbaum several questions about what some of the charges meant and the differences between a felony and a misdemeanor, but otherwise stated, "Yes, sir," or nodded his head when asked if he understood the charges.
Brannon, employed as a maintenance worker at the Hotel Edison, said he moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to live near his grandparents and father after a difficult breakup.
"I had to get away from her for my own sanity," he told the judge about the prior relationship.
Brannon, who has two felony convictions of aggravated assault and robbery from New Jersey, said he took a plea deal and was incarcerated for three years.
"Prior to this situation (Thursday), I've never had any other situations since 2004. It's been 10 years," he said. "I'm a good citizen. Anyone who knows me will tell you that."
Bennick, who was helping Brannon turn the pages on his arrest papers, said the felony of attempted homicide should speak for itself, and noted he was a convicted felon, that he had recent DUI charges and drug charges from his teen years.
"Part of the time he is saying he was a good citizen, he was incarcerated," Bennick said.
Apfelbaum said the officer had a good point, noting there "wasn't much" that could be done, and about how attempted homicide is a "big deal."
To Brannon's comment that he never pointed the gun at the woman or intended to shoot her, Apfelbaum said a trial is the place to determine guilt.
He also kicked Brannon out of the apartment and forbid the man from having contact with the victim.
Brannon asked if the offenses would be individually charged against him, which the judge told him they would be.
"It's like 50 years. Wow," he said about his potential jail time.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled in Apfelbaum's office on Jan. 14.