Waiting for News

Members of a Black Lives Matter group from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who were participating in the March on Washington 2020, sit in parking lot 19 at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center on on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, waiting for news on a friend who was injured during what state police are calling an exchange of gunfire Monday night in Bedford County.

BEDFORD – An Everett man was ordered on Wednesday to stand trial, accused of firing a handgun outside of a Hampton Inn on Aug. 25 where Black Lives Matter activists were staying, authorities said.

Jeremy William Decker, 43, was held for court following a preliminary hearing before District Judge H. Cyril Bingham Jr., of Bedford.

Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Thomas called four witnesses to testify, including two state troopers, the hotel owner and a woman who said that she was with Decker.

A group of about 30 activists from Wisconsin were headed to Washington, D.C., for the March on Washington 2020 event on Friday when they stopped at the Hampton Inn, 4235 Business 220 in Bedford Township – a day after they were involved in a shooting incident along Route 30 in which one of their members was injured.

Decker is represented by court-appointed attorney Mark Zearfaus, of Hollidaysburg.

Tonya Reaugh testified that she and several family and friends drove to the Bedford County Courthouse on Aug. 25 after hearing there was a Black Lives Matter protest.

“We heard they were going to burn down the courthouse,” Reaugh said.

“You were there to protect the courthouse,” Zearfaus said.

“Pretty much,” she said.

The group left the courthouse in three vehicles and drove to the Hampton Inn.

Decker drove his 2001 silver Dodge Ram to the hotel where heated words were exchanged with the activists, Reaugh said.

Hotel owner Sonjiv Patel testified that he told the visiting group to leave and they did. But before they got to the end of the driveway, Patel said he heard gunshots.

Reaugh said she saw Decker point a handgun and fire into the air.

Troopers from the Bedford barracks later located the Dodge Ram in Bedford Borough. Troopers found Decker riding as a passenger in a 1986 Ford truck with multiple firearms, including a 9mm semi-automatic handgun. Six 9mm shell casings were found at the shooting scene. Troopers were able to locate the vehicles after one of the activists live streamed the encounter on Facebook.

Decker is a convicted felon and is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

He is charged with reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct and firearms violations. 

Decker is free on bond. 

The Hampton Inn incident took place a day after one of the activists was shot in Juniata Township.

In that incident, troopers said the activists and support vehicles had stopped in a parking area along Lincoln Highway, Route 30, just east of the Somerset-Bedford County line where they were confronted by property owners.

Troopers said gunshots were exchanged and one of the activists was struck with bird shot and taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, where he was treated and later released. 

No charges have been filed.

Bedford County District Attorney Lesley Childers-Potts and state police are investigating.

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5061. Follow him on Twitter @PatBuchnowskiTD.

Trending Video

Recommended for you