So lately, there's been some "mischief" on a section of the bike trail that runs through Norristown. Specifically, several riders have been assaulted by "youths" along the bike path that runs next to the Schuykill River. Wednesday they picked on the wrong cyclist:
A 27-year-old Norristown man, Joseph James DePaul Jr., was reportedly riding his bike on the trail behind the ArcelorMittal steel plant in Plymouth Township at 8:40 p.m. when a juvenile on a BMX bike allegedly kicked him in the ribs, according to court papers.
After he was kicked, DePaul claimed he nearly lost control of the bike and hit a fence. Once he stopped, he drew his weapon and reportedly fired shots in the direction of the teens, ages 15 and 17, who were by that time about 250 feet ahead of him. The juveniles were not armed.
The cyclist, who is licensed to carry a gun, reportedly shot at the teenager in an effort to “blow the tire out” on the BMX bike. When asked by police how proficient he was with a firearm, DePaul reportedly said, “I’m pretty damn good.”
One of the youths claimed his tire went flat when it was hit by a bullet. The 15-year-old suspect reportedly admitted a “misunderstanding” with a man on the trail Wednesday.
Groups who use the trail met with county officials and members of law enforcement in June to talk about making the trail safer for them. Police stepped up patrols in Norristown. DePaul is a previous victim of a violent crime who had a permit to carry the weapon and is apparently a pretty good shot: he says he was aiming at the tire to blow it out, and that's exactly what he did. Now DePaul is being charged with
criminal attempt at murder, criminal attempt at voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and related offenses and is being held in Montgomery County Prison on $250,000 cash bail.
And Risa Vetri-Ferman, whom I admire very much, has stated:
"The worst thing that can happen is if people start arming themselves."
Seems to me, if people start arming themselves, or even if these punks THINK people are starting to arm themselves, they'll be far less likely to get on their punky little BMX bikes and kick bikers in the ribs. Problem solved.
P.S. I'm available for jury duty for DePaul's trial.