Case Against Rimersburg Man Charged With Firing Shot During Domestic Dispute Moves Forward
Court documents indicate the following charge against 60-year-old Donald Leroy Varner was held for court on February 2:
– Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Misdemeanor 2
The above charge has been transferred to the Clarion County Court of Common Pleas.
The following charge against Varner was dismissed:
– Simple Assault, Misdemeanor 2
Varner remains free on his own recognizance.
The charges stem from an incident that occurred in Madison Township, Clarion County, in July of 2020.
Details of the case:
According to a criminal complaint, around 10:49 a.m. on July 13, Clarion-based State Police received a transfer call via 9-1-1 from Donald Varner reporting an ongoing dispute outside his residence in Madison Township between his daughter and a known man over the custody of their children and suspected abuse.
According to the complaint, Varner reported the known man had arrived at his residence and took the two juveniles, who are Varner’s grandchildren, and left the property in his truck with his daughter on the hood of the truck as he left.
The complaint notes that during the call, Varner informed police he had discharged a rifle into the air.
Police responded to the scene and found Varner along Ten Right Road, approximately 3/4 of a mile north of his residence. He reportedly told police that on July 12, the known man had brought the two juveniles to visit him and had allowed them to spend the night. Varner said he called his daughter the next day to let her know the juveniles were there if she wanted to see them. He told police the man and his daughter do not have a custody agreement in place, and he was not going to prevent his daughter from seeing her juveniles.
According to the complaint, Varner said that his daughter was then dropped off at this residence and went in to see the two juveniles. He told police he and his daughter then both noticed bruises on the one child’s rear right thigh and when asked, the child said the bruises were caused by the known man. The woman then contacted Clarion-based State Police to report the injury.
While waiting for police to respond, Varner said the known man arrived at the residence and demanded that the juveniles get in his truck to leave. Varner reported he was in his living room and saw the known man and his daughter arguing outside, at which point he grabbed his SKS rifle, exited his residence, and told the man to leave without the juveniles. He also informed the man the police were contacted and were on their way to the residence.
Varner told police the known man then “came at him” in a threatening manner, so he fired a shot into the air in order to keep the man away from him. He reported he wanted the shot to “scare him off.”
According to the complaint, Varner reported the man was able to get both of the juveniles in his truck and began backing onto the roadway, attempting to leave. He noted that his daughter attempted to prevent the man from leaving with the juveniles by standing in front of the truck on the road. Varner said the man continued inching his vehicle forward toward his daughter until she jumped on the hood of the truck, and the man then sped off down the road and out of sight.
Police then interviewed the known woman about the incident.
The woman told police that after she observed a large bruise on the one child’s leg, which the child told her was caused by the man disciplining her, she called Clarion Children and Youth and Clarion-based State Police and was told a trooper would be responding. She reported that while waiting for the trooper, she was outside when the man pulled in in his truck and began yelling at the juveniles to get in the truck. She told police she tried to get the juveniles in the house but was unsuccessful. She also reported she told the man the police were on their way, and he should wait to speak to them.
When asked about the gunshot reported at the residence, she stated Varner saw the man pull into the driveway and saw her trying to prevent the juveniles from leaving, and then brought out a gun and shot once into the air. She stated Varner came out of the house and told the man he was on his property, was trespassing, and needed to leave. She reported that when the man said he was not leaving without his kids, Varner shot into the air while standing just off the porch, about 50 feet from the man, as the man walked toward them. She told police Varner then pointed the rifle at the man, at which time the man returned to his truck and tried to leave.
According to the complaint, the woman reported she then jumped on the hood of the man’s truck in an attempt to prevent him from leaving.
The complaint notes police conducted a search of the location and found a discharged cartridge in the grass approximately 15 feet from where Varner said he fired the gun.
Police located the known man and the two juveniles around 2:12 p.m., and the man was then interviewed.
The man told police he had allowed the juveniles to spend the night with Varner but received a message from his girlfriend saying one of the juveniles had sent her a text message saying: “help, mom’s here.” He reported that he had been told by several people that the known woman had made comments that if she got the juveniles, she would take them and leave the area.
According to the complaint, the man said he then headed to Varner’s house, where he found the known woman and the juveniles outside. He reported the woman was holding the one child and wouldn’t let her go. He reported he got the other child in the truck and had the back door open when he heard the gunshot. He then looked back and saw Varner pointing a rifle at him, telling him to get off his property.
The man told police that he had told the second child to run from the woman. He said he backed out of the driveway then started driving up the road where the child and the woman had run and found the woman still holding the child’s arm. He reported he then stopped the truck, and the child then broke free and got in the vehicle. He told police he then turned and found Varner behind him, pointing the rifle at him.
The complaint notes the man reported Varner then said: “The next one is going through the cab of the truck,” and the man replied: “You’re going to do this in front of your granddaughters?”
The man reported he then got into the truck and attempted to drive away, but the woman stood in front of his truck and refused to move. He said that he inched forward, and the woman then jumped on the hood of the truck. He then started driving up the road.
According to the complaint, the man told police he was concerned for the juveniles’ safety and didn’t know where Varner was or if he was following them with the gun. He reported that he drove up around a bend with the woman still on the hood, then stopped and pulled her off the hood several times before finally getting away. He noted he left the area and was on his way home when he was stopped by police.
The two juveniles were also interviewed.
The first juvenile noted she was concerned about what her mother would think if she saw the bruise on the back of her leg and reported that when she saw the bruise, she contact the police. She noted while they were waiting for the police, the other juvenile, her sister, texted the man’s girlfriend, saying, “Come help, moms here.” She said her father then came to pick them up and began yelling for them to get in the truck, but her mother grabbed her and wouldn’t let her leave.
The juvenile told police her grandfather (Varner( then exited his house with a gun and shot into the air. She said her father wanted to leave, but she couldn’t get into the truck, so she started to run toward the road to meet him there. She said she was then able to get into the truck, but her mother stood in front of it, blocking them, and eventually jumped on the hood. She noted her father said she wasn’t going to sit in his vehicle and wait for Varner to shoot him. She told police they drove up the road, then he put the truck in park and pulled her mother from the hood, but she immediately jumped back on.
Police also located a neighbor who witnessed the incident.
The neighbor reported hearing yelling at Varner’s property, then seeing Varner with a rifle pointing it over a truck in the driveway. She stated she heard Varner yell, “get off my property,” before firing the rifle over the truck. She noted she saw a woman running around the truck yelling, then saw the truck back out onto the road. She reported the woman stood in front of the truck arguing with the driver, then the truck inched forward, and the woman jumped on the hood. She told police the truck then “took off” at a high rate of speed.
The charges were filed against Varner through Magisterial District Judge Duane L. Quinn’s office on November 16.
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