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A wheelchair-bound man is charged with attempted criminal homicide after he allegedly fired a black powder gun at two boys while they were swimming in a neighboring pool.

New Castle police arrested Frederick Hess, 53, of 410 Epworth St. in connection with the incident that occurred around 8:50 p.m. Monday outside of a house two doors away from his. Reports were that Hess allegedly had fired one shot that struck the swimming pool.

A small metal ball was found in the bottom of the pool, according to a criminal complaint, and there was a hole the same size as the ball in the pool wall.

The two boys told police that they were in the swimming pool when a man, identified as Hess, came around the corner of the garage and shouted, "What's the problem?" He threatened, "If you guys don't be quiet, I'm going to shoot your pool," according to the court filing.

The boys said they told him, "no you won't." One youth said that Hess the pulled a handgun from his side, raised it straight up, then lowered it level and fired a single shot. A neighbor came out and asked what was happening, and Hess responded, "nothing, it's just to make noise. It doesn't even shoot," according to the account the boys gave the police. They said he then left in his wheelchair.

One of the youths told police that when the gun fired, a flame and a cloud of smoke came out of it. The mother of one of the boys called the police. A third youth was on the porch when the incident occurred and said he saw the smoke and fire when Hess fired the gun, according to the court document.

The police upon their arrival checked the wheelchair for the gun, and Hess pointed it out in a room of his house, police said. The Pietta, an Italian-made black powder handgun that was loaded, was in a brown holster, the report said. The police found that the primer under the gun's hammer had been fired and another primer was missing. The rest were intact and unfired, the paperwork noted.

The police said they tried to question Hess but he refused to speak to them and said he wanted an attorney.

Hess is charged with two counts each of criminal attempted homicide, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering other persons and one count each of carrying a gun without a license and person not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms.

Hess was arraigned by District Judge Melissa A. Amodie, who committed him to the Lawrence County jail on a $200,000 bond.



Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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