Two men accused of fatally shooting another man in Lancaster in May will stand trial
LANCASTER — A judge ordered two men charged with pursuing another man around Lancaster City before fatally shooting him on East Chestnut Street in May will stand trial, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.
After a preliminary hearing Monday, District Judge William Reuter ordered a trial for Ryan Rivera and Brian Paltan, the two men accused of killing Tyreek Gardner on May 30, the DA’s office said.
Reuter observed several minutes of video footage depicting Rivera and Paltan following Gardner around a Lancaster neighborhood, initially challenging him to a fight, then opening fire, according to the DA’s office.
Gardner was fatally wounded, the DA’s office said.
The final piece of video played for the judge: Gardner is seen walking on East Chestnut Street, a vehicle carrying Rivera and Paltan follows, and as all clear the camera’s periphery, four gunshots are heard.
First Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson presented the video evidence during a 90-minute hearing that ended with Reuter ruling that enough was presented to bound Rivera’s and Paltan’s cases to trial in Lancaster County Court. Neither man is eligible for bail.
Both Rivera and Paltan were identified in the video by distinct visual characteristics, according to detectives who testified at the hearing. Paltan was wearing “bright white pants” on the night of the killing, and Rivera has tattoos on his neck and left arm.
Detectives also testified that two women — partners of Gardner and Paltan — identified them as the men seen in the camera footage, according to the DA’s office.
Gardner’s partner said she witnessed an altercation involving the three men minutes before the shooting, according to testimony. She and Gardner were walking together when Rivera and Paltan engaged them, asking Gardner for a fight, the detectives testified.
Gardner and his partner believed Rivera was armed because he had his hand in a pocket, and they knew of his “history of carrying a firearm,” a detective testified.
Gardner’s partner said he did not fight the men, but instead fled the scene, telling her to walk a separate path back home, according to testimony.
Gardner is seen in the camera footage, appearing to attempt to avoid the men. At one point, he is seen looking back over his shoulder as he jogged.
Unbeknownst to him, he jogged right past a parked vehicle that would contain his pursuers, a detective testified.
Also among testimony Monday:
- The vehicle in the footage is Paltan’s Volkswagen Passat. It had a distinct taillight style and a missing hubcap on a tire.
- When police stopped that vehicle a couple weeks after the shooting, Paltan was inside – along with ammunition that matched a shell casing found at the shooting scene.
- Shell casings were found at both shooting scenes, on East Chestnut Street and Tobacco Avenue. Testing revealed two firearms fired the rounds.
- Six Federal brand shell casings were found at the scenes – two on Tobacco Avenue and four on East Chestnut Street.
- A GECO brand casing (the same found in Paltan’s vehicle) also was found on Tobacco Avenue. The four casings on East Chestnut Street were on the street, in an area where vehicles would park along the curb.
- In one video clip, Paltan (identified by his white pants) takes a swing at Gardner. Gardner is shot minutes later.
- Paltan told police he was in the area on May 30, but lied about being alone in his vehicle.