2 York County men accused of attacking Game Warden in Schuylkill County
POTTSVILLE, Schuylkill County — Two York County men are facing charges after State Police say they attacked a Pennsylvania Game Warden while hunting in Schuylkill County.
Wade Michael Winemiller, 57, of Lower Windsor Township, and Thomas Earl Kelly Jr., 57, of Hopewell Township, are charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, disarming a law-enforcement officer, robbery, simple assault, resisting arrest, harassment, and disorderly conduct in connection to the incident, which occurred at about 10 a.m. on Dec. 1., in a wooded area off Peach Mountain Road near Pottsville, according to the criminal complaint affidavit.
Winemiller and Kelly are accused of punching, kicking, and beating state Game Commission Deputy Warden David Fidler, who was investigating the shooting of a deer, possibly by someone riding an ATV.
As Fidler walked through the woods, he heard ATVs approaching and stepped off the trail until he encountered two suspects, later identified as Winemiller and Kelly, he later told State Police.
Winemiller and Kelly allegedly ignored Fidler’s commands to stop, and fled on the ATVs instead, according to the criminal complaint. But one of the suspects rolled his ATV, and the other suspect’s ATV stalled out, Fidler told police.
Fidler approached the men, identified himself again as a State Game Warden, and attempted to detain them. But the suspects would not cooperate.
When Fidler attempted to take the keys to one of the ATVs, Kelly allegedly made a fist and cocked his arm as if he intended to strike him. Fidler then drew a firearm, holding it in a low-ready position, according to the criminal complaint. He gave both suspects verbal commands to comply, then re-holstered his firearm and attempted to examine one of the ATVs.
At that point, Fidler told police, Kelly attacked him, punching him in the face. Fidler attempted to subdue Kelly with pepper spray, but it was ineffective, he told police.
Both suspects then began chasing Fidler, who drew his firearm a second time, police say.
Kelly grabbed Fidler’s arm and pushed it downward, and Winemiller also attempted to grab the weapon and disarm him, Fidler told police.
Fidler then turned the firearm’s muzzle to his left side, where Kelly was, and discharged one round into the ground, he told police.
Both men continued to attack Fidler, punching him in the head and kicking him. Winemiller eventually got Fidler’s weapon and backed away. He allegedly told Fidler he could retrieve his weapon “at the next intersection by the creek,” according to the criminal complaint.
Kelly yelled at Fidler to give him back his ATV key, Fidler said. Fidler complied, and both suspects then returned to their ATVs and fled.
Fidler was treated for injuries at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Pottsville.
State Police say they followed “multiplel investigatory leads” to find Winemiller and Kelly, whom they say were known to operate ATVs like those Fidler described and were “known to be confrontational with other ATV riders,” according to the criminal complaint.
When State Police arrived at Winemiller’s home, the suspect allegedly said “I knew you guys were coming,” the criminal complaint states.
Police found two ATVs at Winemiller’s home, one of which had a broken handguard, which was left at the crime scene, according to the criminal complaint. Police seized both ATVs as evidence.
Winemiller allegedly told police “I should have changed out that hand guard,” according to the criminal complaint.
State police went to Winemiller’s home, prompting him to say, “I knew you guys were coming,” documents allege.
Winemiller allegedly admitted to his part in the altercation with the game warden, according to the criminal complaint.
Kelly is free on $100,000 bail, while Winemiller is in Schuylkill County Prison in lieu of $150,000 bail.