SANATOGA PA – Several shots fired from what investigators believe to be a small caliber semi-automatic handgun had officers from the Lower Pottsgrove Police Department combing the grounds and selected residences at the Rolling Hills Apartments, 2120 Buchert Rd., on Friday (July 26, 2013) from early morning hours until the late afternoon, Chief Michael Foltz said.
No one was reported injured. The firings appear to be untargeted acts, and so far no one has been arrested for or charged with gunplay, but charges are pending for alleged drug violations found during the course of a search for weapons. The investigation is continuing, and the chief Friday night sought public help in catching the shooters and recovering the gun.
A review of the apartments’ surveillance system and other components of the investigation lead police to believe “a group of black male subjects had been firing a weapon at random as they ran around the development,” Foltz said.
Reports of shots being fired in and around the complex, and specifically near its 130s block of residences, initially drew police patrols from both Lower and Upper Pottsgrove at around 3 a.m. On arrival, at least one officer “heard a loud noise which sounded like an explosion from a firework and saw a large flash in the area,” according to the chief.
Police said they saw, and other apartment residents also reported seeing, several males at various times either running or walking at a fast pace away from the area as officers began streaming in. Some witnesses said they saw the males “hiding from police as they were in the development,” Foltz said. All evaded law enforcers, including one identified as “a black male wearing a white hooded sweatshirt,” Foltz added.
Two more shots were fired, one resident reported, after police began scouring the scene. Yet another report of shots fired in the same area came in at 4 a.m., and the resident filing that complaint reported seeing at least two males running from the area.
Initial searches of the grounds during the pre-dawn turned up little: no actors, no spent bullet shell casings, Foltz said.
Authorities’ luck turned several hours later, however, when at about noon Friday a Rolling Hills’ maintenance worker found a shell casing and handed it to investigators. That brought them back to the scene, where several other casings also were recovered.
The investigation at about 3:30 p.m. also caused police to search at least one residence in the adjacent 140s block of apartments. They recovered no weapons, but seized an unspecified amount of marijuana, Foltz said. Occupants of the home were identified by police, but their names were not released. Charges related to the drugs are pending, he reported.
Foltz called Friday night for “public cooperation” to “identify and prosecute” perpetrators as well as to recover the handgun. Anyone with information is asked to phone the department at 610-326-1508. “We will not tolerate this behavior, and in cooperation with the property management we will aggressively work to eliminate these criminal elements from our community, in order to allow other residents to reside in a peaceful and safe community,” he said.
The cooperation to which Foltz referred apparently is an agreement he reached with Rolling Hills’ operators to force evictions of “those committing violent criminal activity or drug transactions within the vicinity of these residences,” as allowed under federal housing regulations. It is unknown whether proposed evictions would apply to convicted actors’ families as well.