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Suspect accused of accidentally shooting boy said he did not know who shot child

Published On: May 09 2014 04:18:38 PM CDT
Updated On: May 11 2014 05:58:21 AM CDT

Arrest in shooting of boy

NORTH COVENTRY TWP., Pa. -

A neighbor accidentally shot an 8-year-old boy while the child rode his bicycle with a friend, Chester County authorities said. 

On Friday night, the man told 69 News he had no idea who shot the child.

The shooting happened Friday afternoon on West Main Street in North Coventry Township., near Pottstown.

Police arrested Wayne Snowden, 55, for several counts of assault on Saturday evening.  Snowden accidentally shot A.J. Hagner with a 9mm Glock handgun from his front porch, according to arrest paperwork. 

The shooting was an accident, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said in a news release.

 "The defendant was extraordinarily reckless," Hogan said.  "We are all grateful that this innocent child was not killed just a couple of days before Mother’s Day.”

Hogan did not say why Snowden allegedly fired a loaded handgun from his front porch.  Inside his home, investigators found a spent shell casing inside the gun.

"I want to reassure the community that the victim in this case was not specifically targeted; this was a case of irresponsible gun handling in its most tragic form," said North Coventry Police Chief Robert Schurr.

After the shooting, investigators immediately focused on the suspect's home.  Outside, a defiant Snowden claimed to have no knowledge of the shooting.

Reporter:  "Do you know what direction the bullet came from?"

Snowden:  "It's hard to say.  Only thing I heard was a pop."

Hagner was flown to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  He was released from the hospital on Saturday, but that the bullet missed narrowly a crucial artery in his thigh.

"He was bleeding from his leg," said Paul Fry, a neighbor and family friend.  "Just blood everywhere."

Hagner was riding his bicycle with Karen Vandegrift's grandson, who scrambled to help his friend.

"He started to walk him home, and then he couldn't make it, and he laid him down in the grass," she said.

The shooting hit home for parents who thought their quiet street was safe.

"This kid is at my house every day playing with my kids who are the same age.  They're in school together," Fry said.  "So it's just like one of your own getting shot."

Saturday night, detectives canvassed the porch where Snowden allegedly fired the shot.  It's the same porch where, just 24 hours earlier, he told us he tried to help the little boy.

"I didn't know what the situation was at that time," Snowden said Friday night, "and then they tell me that somebody got shot."

One of Snowden's employees who was on the front porch fingered him as the triggerman, according to arrest papers. 

He said Snowden was wearing a bathrobe and underwear, and placed the gun in his robe pocket after firing the single shot.

Snowden's only criminal history is a traffic ticket.  He's in jail under $75,000 bond.  His next court appearance is May 15.