Attempted Murder at Pennsylvania Gun Range Stopped by Armed Samaritan

Attempted Murder at Pennsylvania Gun Range Stopped by Armed Samaritan
Attempted Murder at Pennsylvania Gun Range Stopped by Armed Samaritan, image from goerie.com

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- On 22 December 2020, at about 2:08 p.m. at the State Game Lands Shooting Range 109, in Erie County, Pennsylvania, a highly unusual attack and defensive shooting occurred.

The shooting range is located in a densely wooded area. There are nine shooting points; three for pistols with a 25-yard range, and six for rifles, with a 100-yard range.  Tuesday was dull and dreary with a westerly wind of 14 mph. Before noon it had been overcast with light rain. By two p.m, the sun was occasionally peeking through the clouds.  It was cool and cloudy at 39 degrees F.

Satellite view of Erie County Game Lands Shooting Range 109 from Google maps, cropped and scaled by Dean Weingarten

Two young couples had arrived in separate vehicles. One of the two young men had recently purchased a pistol. The two young men and two young women reportedly took turns shooting the pistol, at the range.

Then, from reported accounts, Robert A. Eppley, 26 fired five shots downrange, turned around, and started firing at his 28-year-old male friend.

There was an Armed Samaritan on one of the other two pistol firing points. He observed what was happening, and quickly acted. He shot Robert Epply to prevent further attacks and to stop the shooting of the 28-year-old.

Three people were at the rifle portion of the range. They heard the shooting but did not see the events as they happened.

Eppley was declared dead at the range at 3:11 p.m. From goerie.com:

Eppley was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting, at the State Game Lands 109 gun range at 10679 Sampson Road, at 3:11 p.m. Tuesday by Erie County Deputy Coroner John Maloney.

A 4½-hour autopsy performed Wednesday by Erie County forensic pathologist Eric Vey, M.D., determined that Eppley died of gunshot wounds to the torso, Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook said.

The 67-year-old man who was nearby, who Weindorf said had no connection to the two men, saw what was happening and fired on Eppley, who was still shooting at his friend, Weindorf said.

Murders at shooting ranges are very rare events. Prominent Marine sniper Chris Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield were murdered at a Texas shooting range, in 2013, by a mentally disturbed drug user, Eddie Ray Routh, who Kyle was attempting to help. Routh was sentenced to life in prison.

In Pennsylvania, the shooter was stopped before he was able to kill his first victim.  The identity of the armed Samaritan and the victim have not been released to the public.

The deceased attacker has been identified as Robert A. Eppley.

Internet records show a person with the same name, associated with a September 2012 address in North East PA, listed a post office box on the Parris Island Marine Recruit Depot in July of 2012.

It is likely the same Robert A. Eppley. What connection he may have had with the Marine Corps is indeterminate at this time.

Previous Marine recruits have told me all mail was sent through their training unit. Training units have post office boxes. Searches have not associated the P. O. box associated with Robert Eppley with a particular training unit.

Police are continuing to investigate the Pennsylvania shooting. The victim was released from the hospital on the 23rd of December, according to US News. No motive for the attack has been determined.  The 67-Year-Old armed Samaritan has been released. No charges are pending at this time.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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American Patriot
American Patriot(@american-patriot)
11 months ago

I’m so glad that the County forensic pathologist could determine the cause of death!!!

musicman44mag
musicman44mag(@xman)
11 months ago

They performed an autopsy and determined a bullet killed him. DUH!!!! They should have done a drug/covid test and that’s it. I guess he must not have had covid because if he did, they would have said he died from that instead.

Some times I wonder how stupid we can get.

Arm up for a safe America

Dr. Smith
Dr. Smith(@tiggershadow2)
11 months ago

Tragic story, Dean. Thank you for your fair reporting, as always. Here is the obituary: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/erietimesnews/obituary.aspx?n=robert-a-eppley&pid=197368464&fhid=8573

gsteele
gsteele(@gsteele)
11 months ago

Seems like there was either a back story with the couples, or a mentally unsettled (perhaps ex-serviceman) person was either undiagnosed or not properly counseled and taken care of. We send young men to war, which is the part of life hardest to fit into a rational mind, and expect the experience not to result in something broken. Mankind dwells in the grey shadows between a state of nature and a state of enlightenment, not quite divorced of his animal past, so this is a fragile time in human evolution. You cannot help feeling that a tragedy that cut a… Read more »

PMinFl
PMinFl(@pminfl)
11 months ago
Reply to  gsteele

Maybe like ending the “forever” wars against unknown enemies.

HoundDogDave
HoundDogDave(@hounddogdave)
11 months ago

This brings to mind the murder/suicide video I saw (still shots taken from) many years ago where a mother shot her son in the back of the head at an indoor range. She left a note “I had to send my son to heaven and myself to Hell.” 

Pastor Roy
Pastor Roy(@roy-payne)
11 months ago

So glad the 67 year old man was alert and willing to take the necessary action. Sad, because from the information shared, it would appear the shooter may have been mentally unstable. But if that is the case, then like a mad dog, he had to be put down. Thankfully, this was done before he could kill his friend or injure anyone else.

RoyD
RoyD(@royd)
11 months ago

A few years ago I went out to a range here locally that I had shot at for many years. The older guy who had ran it for most of those years had gotten ill and could no longer run the place. So the owners leased it to another person and it was under new management. The older guy was pretty laid back as long as you followed the “four rules.” I had shot there with my rifles under the new management but today was just handguns. So I show up and I go down to the pistol section which… Read more »

Pastor Roy
Pastor Roy(@roy-payne)
11 months ago
Reply to  RoyD

To say that you can’t open carry at a gun range is insane. Sounds like a liberal decided it would be fun to operate a gun range, though why is beyond me.

The outdoor range my wife & I frequent is owned by the Missouri Dept. of Conservation and all they really do is maintain it. In 20 years, I’ve never even seen an agent on hand. Everyone is their own Range Officer and it works very well. Never seen anyone not practicing safe gun handling.

willyd
willyd(@willyd)
11 months ago
Reply to  Pastor Roy

Question; Were is that range, I live in Mo and getting any information about ranges or clubs is like finding a hens tooth!!!!

CEMinMO
CEMinMO(@charles-moore)
11 months ago
Reply to  Pastor Roy

PF?

CEMinMO
CEMinMO(@charles-moore)
11 months ago
Reply to  CEMinMO

Sorry — PH (?)