PA: Followup to Erie Gun Range Armed Samaritan Shooting, no Charges

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)- Additional details have been released by the Erie County District Attorney’s office in the rare attack and defensive shooting at the State Game Lands Shooting Range 109. The incident happened on 22 December 2020.

From yourerie.com:

On December 22nd, 2020, a group of four friends made way to the Pennsylvania Game Lands in Greene Township to test out a recently purchased Beretta nine millimeter handgun.

Five people were directly involved in the shooting. Two have been identified. The attacker was Robert A. Eppley, 26 years old, who had served as a Marine. His fiancee, said to be pregnant with his child, was present. He shot his long term friend, Michael Patterson, 28 years old. Patterson’s girlfriend was also present.

The person who shot Eppley, to stop the attack, was an unnamed 67-year-old man.

The two couples had come to the gun range a little before 2 p.m. to shoot a Beretta 9mm pistol which Patterson had recently purchased.

A little while after they arrived the 67-year-old man arrived and set up on the pistol firing point to their immediate left.  He was firing a Ruger .22 caliber pistol. There is only three pistol firing points at the range.

Shortly after 2 p.m., the four friends had been taking turns shooting the Beretta. Robert Eppley had reloaded the pistol and fired about five shots downrange.  He abruptly turned to his right and commenced firing at Patterson. One report states he fired at Patterson and “his girlfriend”.

This correspondent has been unable to determine if “his girlfriend” refers to Eppley’s fiance or to Patterson’s girlfriend. From goerie.com:

Eppley then turned to his right and began firing the handgun at Patterson and his girlfriend, Daneri said. Patterson was shot five times and was taken to UPMC Hamot for treatment before being released from the hospital later that night. 

The 67-year-old Erie man then used his 22 mm Ruger pistol to shoot Eppley five times — twice on his rib cage and three times in the back — Daneri said.

If Eppley fired at one of the women, he missed. Patterson was hit five times. It appears the hits were not to vital organs, as he was released from the hospital later that night.

Upon seeing Eppley shooting at Patterson, and possibly one of the women, the 67-year-old armed Samaritan opened fire with his Ruger .22 pistol.

He hit Eppley five times, twice in the ribcage and three times in the back, presumably as Eppley turned during his attack on the others.

Both Patterson and Eppley were hit five times. Patterson with a 9mm, Eppley with a .22 rimfire.  Patterson was released from the hospital the same day. Eppley was quickly disabled and died at the scene. Both shootings were at close range, about 10 feet.

After Eppley went down, the 67-year-old attempted to render first aid and called 911. Eppley was pronounced dead at the scene.

Where people are hit is more important than what they are hit with, at least for common pistol calibers.

The autopsy of Eppley revealed his blood-alcohol level to be .21, more than double what is considered legally under the influence in most states.

The Erie County DA found the shooting to be justified. He stated no charges will be brought against the armed Samaritan, and no motive for the attack on Patterson was determined.


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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Elisa Delaurenti
Elisa Delaurenti (@elisa-delaurenti)
9 months ago

I’m reminded of the democrat who murdered Chris Kyle. Careful who you take to the range, and who/what is in your social circle.

Mikial
Mikial (@mikial)
9 months ago

So true. The Kyle shooting was tragic but I never understood why he and his friend didn’t pay more attention to what was going on. You are always you’re own first line of defense. But in this case at least someone was there to save the day.

KeyserSosze
KeyserSosze (@keysersosze)
9 months ago

Not sure how this reminded you but, nowhere is it listed that Eddie ray routh is a democrat and really who cares? More people who identify as either democrat or liberal have purchased more firearms in the last year than ever before. Don’t panic, I’m not a lib or dem. He IS mentally ill with schizophrenia, PTSD, hallucinations and alcoholism. Remember oan, face book and brietbart are not actual news outlets.
I do agree that you should always know and trust those you shoot with, but I don’t take strangers to the range anyway.

Sisu
Sisu (@sisu)
9 months ago

No comment from either of the two women or the friend ? We’re they all intoxicated ? …

As others note – Praise to the 67-year old. I hope he does not “second guess” his actions given the death. I expect he went to the range as an escape, to relax.

Not many will agree that there are circumstances where shooting an attacker in the back is appropriate (the article states ribcage then back; I don’t think the order matters in the circumstances described). This event demonstrates there are circumstances that dictate – “stop the attack” is the first priority.

Cruiser
Cruiser (@cop1771)
9 months ago

As a retired LEO I have to requalify each year. I never leave any range with an empty gun. Remember the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.” an empty gun is just an expensive paper weight.

Deplorable Bill
Deplorable Bill (@deplorable-bill)
9 months ago

Give the 67 yr old a medal. He saved lives, maybe his own. Contrary to T.V., shooting someone in a high stress situation is not easy. Many bullets miss their mark even at close range. Then there’s the commitment to decide to and then implement a defense of life action. There is very little time to decide and accomplish a shooting solution. Think about it. Oh [email protected]!t, that guy is shooting those people! How do I stop him? Then, next comes your shooting solution. All of this happens faster than you can read the last sentence. What about after? That… Read more »

Heed the Call-up
Heed the Call-up (@daveeckartverizon-net)
9 months ago

Another issue is that you might have just finished shooting all of your mags. Apparently the Samaritan had half a mag left when the incident occurred. I bet he now believes never to be “out of ammo”, as in one must have a mag available, even at the range, not to shoot them all, then reload the mags, as I typically do – I certainly am. As rare as it is to need a firearm for self-defense, it is probably that many times more rare at a firearm range. If one believes in God, that would likely be a sign… Read more »

Deplorable Bill
Deplorable Bill (@deplorable-bill)
9 months ago

AMEN

Arm up and carry on