Man Claims Deadly Shooting Spurred by Hunting Argument Was Self-Defense
SCRUBGRASS TWP., Pa. (EYT) – An Emlenton man who is facing homicide charges claimed that the deadly shooting over a hunting argument was self-defense.
According to court documents, Franklin-based State Police filed criminal charges against 52-year-old David Charles Heathcote on Sunday, October 30, in the shooting death of Robert Cy Wingard.
Pennsylvania State Police received a call from David Heathcote around 8:02 p.m. on Saturday, October 29. During the call, Heathcote told the PCO (Police Communications Operator) that he wanted to “report a self-defense shooting,” according to a criminal complaint.
A trooper from PSP Franklin listened to the recorded phone call between Heathcote and the PCO. During the call, Heathcote said, “a man pulled into my driveway that I had problems with for years,” according to the complaint.
The PCO asked, “Did you shoot him?” Heathcote responded, “Yes,” according to the complaint.
The PCO asked, “Is he deceased?” Heathcote said, “He’s deceased I believe. He said he was going to shoot my daughter when he left here.” The call was then transferred to a state trooper, the complaint states.
Heathcote explained to the trooper that the victim, Robert Cy Wingard, was “trouble” and that he had trouble with him “for years,” the complaint indicates.
When Heathcote was asked what he shot the victim with, Heathcote responded, “my shotgun,” the complaint states.
Heathcote explained to the trooper that Wingard was upset because he had apparently “messed up his hunt.” Wingard drove into his driveway and threatened to shoot his dogs and his daughter, according to the complaint.
The call was transferred back to the PCO who instructed Heathcote to leave his shotgun in his truck and to wait on his porch for the troopers to arrive, the complaint states.
Troopers were then dispatched to Heathcote’s residence located at 716 Big Bend Road, in Emlenton, Scrubgrass Township, Venango County. Upon arrival at the scene, state police observed the victim sitting in the driver’s seat of his truck with a severe gunshot wound to his face and neck area.
The victim’s truck, a black 2001 Ford F-150 truck, was sitting in the driveway of the above-mentioned residence. Heathcote’s truck, a black 2008 Chevrolet Colorado, was also sitting in the driveway of the residence. State police observed a double-barrel shotgun in the front seat of Heathcote’s truck on the front seat near the steering wheel, the complaint states.
Heathcote was then transported to PSP Franklin to be interviewed. Prior to the interview, Heathcote was read his rights, and he signed the waiver form and agreed to speak to the troopers, the complaint notes.
According to the complaint, Heathcote related that he was dove hunting on Saturday evening on a neighboring farm approximately a half of a mile from his residence with his 20 gauge shotgun. While he was hunting, he heard a male voice yell, “There are no turkeys here.”
He kept hunting, firing his shotgun five to six more times. It started to get dark as he walked home along the edges of corn fields. When he arrived home, Wingard drove past his residence and yelled, “You screwed up my archery hunt.” Heathcote yelled back (an expletive). He said Wingard drove down the road, then turned around and drove back toward his residence, stopping in the driveway, and remained in his truck, the complaint states.
As the argument became more heated, Heathcote said Wingard threatened to kill his dogs and his autistic daughter. He said he told Wingard, “I’m calling the cops,” and Wingard made an abrupt movement with his right hand inside the cab of his truck, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, Heathcote said this scared him, and he thought Wingard may be reaching for a gun. He stated that he raised his shotgun, pointed it at Wingard, and discharged it, striking him in the head and neck, killing him.
Wingard’s vehicle was still in drive, and Heathcote shot him through the open passenger’s side window. Heathcote stated that he ran around the truck and opened the driver’s side door and tried to place it in park and step on the brakes. He related the truck was drifting toward his barn, the complaint indicates.
After he killed Wingard, Heathcote stated that he sat in his driveway for a period of time before he called his sister, the complaint notes.
A trooper asked Heathcote if he thought what he did was justified, and he answered, “No,” according to the complaint.
He said he could not see into the truck because it was too dark inside. He could not see a gun and did not know if the victim had a gun. He said he assumed Wingard was reaching for a gun, the complaint states.
He was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Matthew T. Kirtland on Sunday, October 30, at 3:35 a.m. on the following charge:
– Criminal Homicide, H1
He was lodged in the Venango County Jail with bail denied. The Bail Action Reason was listed as a “Non-bailable offense supported by proof that is evident.”
He faces a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, November 9, at 8:30 a.m. in Venango County Central Court with Judge Kirtland presiding.
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