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Shooting suspect arrested; bail set at $2 million

September 29, 2011

State troopers Charles Gross (left) and John Young (right) assist Christopher L. Thornhill from a vehicle for his arraignment Thursday before District Judge Douglas Chambers, stemming from last Thursday’s shooting of two Punxsy men. (Photo by Tom Chapin/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — A Pittsburgh man accused of shooting two Punxsy men last week had his bail set at $2 million during his arraignment Thursday, just hours after he was apprehended in the Pittsburgh area.

Christopher L. Thornhill, 24, faces two counts each of attempted criminal homicide; aggravated assault; recklessly endangering another person; and weapons violations stemming from the Sept. 22 incident near a residence along Cranberry Alley.

Earlier Thursday, Thornhill was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals and members of the Pennsylvania State Police Fugitive Task Force at a residence in Wilkinsburg, Allegheny County.

The victims in last week’s shooting — Richard White, 21, and Shane Glatt, 18, both of Punxsy — were transported to Punxsutawney Area Hospital via private vehicle before being flown to UPMC-Presbyterian in Pittsburgh for treatment.

In an affidavit of probable cause, Punxsutawney Borough Police Officer Patrick Renwick said he had spoken to a doctor at the Punxsy hospital, who said White suffered a single gunshot wound to the chest and a spinal cord injury, while Glatt was struck three times, with one of the bullets striking him in the leg, blowing out his femur, and the two other bullets striking him in the groin area.

Also in the affidavit, PSP Cpl. Chuck Dominick interviewed Mary McCallister, a Pine Street resident near whose home Renwick had seen a large pool of blood shortly after his arrival on-scene.

In the interview with Dominick, McCallister said Thornhill — also known as “Black” — “did not act out at the time when he found his box missing. I told him I don’t know about the box. He said he wanted it back, and I said, ‘Go get it.’”

The affidavit then said McCallister called Rebecca Siceloff, who also said she didn’t have the box, “then she said she did,” McCallister said. “Me and Black went to Becky’s house. It wasn’t there.”

McCallister then said the three went to the home of John Szentmiklosi for about 15 minutes, when McCallister said, “I said I would like to leave. Black said, ‘You can’t leave either. Black was mad at Becky. He pulled a gun and threatened Becky.”

In the affidavit, McCallister then told Dominick that Thornhill drove back to her house, and he and Siceloff went upstairs.

McCallister said at the house, people were talking about a green car, which she saw while watching TV, “and heard pops.”

Outside, “The green car was there, and two kids were screaming for help to go to the emergency room,” she said. “They were helped into the car by the driver.

“When I heard the shots, I saw Black outside with the gun in his hand, threatening the kids that were shot,” McCallister said in the affidavit. “He said, ‘You stole my (expletive), and now you are going to pay the price.’ Then all of a sudden, he left in his SUV.”

During Thornhill’s arraignment, District Judge Douglas Chambers told him about his rights and options — such as a jury trial — should his case go to trial.

Thornhill said he understood that he had a right to a “jury of my peers ... but how is that possible?”

“You’re a long way from that,” Chambers said, noting that the arraignment was the first step in the legal process.

Thornhill also questioned the manner in which he was arrested, saying that while he understood there had been a warrant out for his arrest as it pertained to the shooting, he never saw a warrant for his arrest Thursday, when he said law enforcement officials “bogarted right in the door.”

He said his listed address in Pittsburgh is his mother’s, and that he has been living in Punxsy for the past two years.

When asked by Chambers, Thornhill also acknowledged two prior convictions on his record, a felony firearms charge for which he served probation, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of crack cocaine, for which he served time in a state correctional facility.

Chambers scheduled Thornhill’s preliminary hearing for Thursday, Oct. 6.

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