The Lancaster County District Attorney's office has decided not to file criminal charges against either party involved from a road rage shooting that took place on May 6th in Lititz.
According to a news release sent out Wednesday by District Attorney Craig Stedman, he will not rule the shooting justified, and determined criminal charges against James Mellinger Jr. and Darrel Smith Jr. could not be upheld in court beyond a reasonable doubt.
The announcement comes after a four-month long investigation into the shooting that took place in the parking lot of Lititz Family Cupboard Restaurant and Buffet along Newport Road.
Officers responded to the parking lot where authorities said the two men were driving separate cars along Newport Road when they pulled off into the parking lot of the restaurant. Smith was shot in the jaw during the confrontation.
Smith was taken to Lancaster General Hospital and underwent emergency surgery.
Mellinger was taken in for questioning by police and was released.
Stedman said something happened that caused 30-year-old Smith to be upset with 74-year-old Mellinger when Smith aggressively followed Mellinger into the restaurant parking lot and confronted him.
Investigators also agreed with Mellinger’s version of events when he said he drew a gun, but never aimed it at Smith, and that Smith was shot under the chin when the gun accidentally discharged.
"With the age difference, physical condition difference and that they both say it was an accidental discharge and we know the angle was consistent with that, we didn't feel that any charges could be sustained," Stedman said.
Mellinger called 911 and remained at the scene. The DA said Mellinger also has a medical history that corroborated his claim that he feared serious injury if he got into a physical confrontation.
“Furthermore, Mellinger’s history of spine, neck and back injuries, contributed to his decision to draw his firearm in self-defense, and that his medical history would be a compelling factor for any jury or judge hearing the facts.”
“This incident remains a stark reminder of the dangers of road rage, and of confronting drivers yourself – regardless of what they have done on the road,” Stedman said. “Please contact police and/or simply drive away, if that is a safe option, when confronted with a road-rage incident. We are fortunate no one was killed and children were not injured.”