Drexel Hill man charged with morning rifle attack
UPPER DARBY -- The sound of gunshots shattered the early morning quiet Thursday at Lasher and Dayton roads in Drexel Hill. No less than 20 calls were placed to the county’s Emergency Communica-tions Center shortly after 7 a.m. when a Drexel Hill man targeted two men with a 30-caliber M1 carbine military rifle, firing numerous rounds.
"It’s lucky somebody didn’t get killed," Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said after the dust settled and two bike patrol officers, Dan Lanni and Frank Guille, found the alleged shooter hiding in the woods near Creek Road.
Thomas Brophy, 22, of the 4000 block of Dayton Road, Drexel Hill, was taken into custody without incident and charged with two counts each of criminal attempt homicide, assault, reckless endangerment, terroristic threats and weapons offenses.
Detective Lt. George Rhoades Jr. blamed the confrontation on a domestic dispute that started with an argument between Brophy and another man, 23, also of Drexel Hill.
"He fired three shots through the back window of the truck," Rhoades said, noting one of the projectiles went through the headrest of the passenger seat and struck the front windshield.
The victim, who departed after the spat and returned later with an uncle to finish packing and move out, told police Brophy attempted to hit both men with a golf club before they headed for a pickup truck in the alley.
"The victim heard Brophy yell and he turned around," Detective Charles Missimer wrote in the affidavit, noting they were about 50 feet apart in the alley when Brophy allegedly pulled the trigger.
"The victim saw Brophy rack the rifle and then heard a shot," which shattered the back window of the truck, the affidavit states. Brophy then allegedly fired two more rounds while the victim and his uncle took cover, crouching in front of the pickup truck.
"The fourth round jammed," Chitwood said. "If the gun didn’t jam, he would have killed them.
His stupidity endangered an entire neighborhood" at a time when children are going to school and adults are heading for work.
"It was a heinous act," he said. "Total stupidity. Obviously, that gun will never be on the street again."
A description of Brophy was broadcast on the police band radio, and Lanni and Guille found him hiding on a hill on Creek Road.
Both Rhoades and Chitwood credited the efforts of Lanni and Guille.
"They were determined to find him and went through the park area section by section," Rhoades said.
"The guys did a great job," Chitwood concurred.
"I heard the first shot," neighbor Joan Powers said. "It was loud, different from a car backfiring. Then I heard the others. It scared me because all these kids are going to Garrettford School" on the corner.
"I called (the police) as soon as I heard the shots."
Another woman, identified only as Sue, of Lasher Road, looked outside when she heard the shots because her 14-year-old son had just left to catch the school bus on the corner.
"I quick put on my shoes to see where my son was," she said. "A neighbor said to get back in the house because someone’s shooting. The next thing I knew, cops were everywhere."