CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A Hastings man is facing a slew of charges following an investigation into a shooting on Feb. 21 in Barr Township that had him air-lifted to the hospital.
The incident all began after 71-year-old Ronald Paul Paronish tried to spy on a man around 11 a.m. because he believed the man was making repairs/updates to his garage without a proper permit from the township, according to charges filed by state police. Paronish added that he was concerned that the man was taking shortcuts with construction, and it wasn’t safe.
So, Paronish parked about a mile down Preisser Road, and he started walking toward the man’s house dressed in camo with a mask on to conceal his identity, police noted.
Paronish told police that he aborted his mission due to knee pain and started walking back to his vehicle. However, during the walk, he hitched a ride from someone to get back to his vehicle… someone that actually turned out to be the very man he was going to spy on, according to the affidavit.
At this point, Paronish and the man gave police conflicting stories.
According to the man, he picked up Paronish without realizing who he was because of the camo and mask. He also reported to police that when Paronish got in, he smelled a strong chemical that made it hard to breathe, and he got lightheaded.
However, Paronish alleged that the man recognized him almost immediately, saying, “I know who the hell you are,” and started driving recklessly, police noted.
At some point, a physical fight began, and the man pulled out a Glock 43 and started firing at Paronish out of what he described to police as self-defense from his attacker who had also sprayed him with starter fluid, according to court documents. Paronish, however, alleged that the man is the one who assaulted him.
Police noted Paronish was hit three times — in his left torso, upper thigh and left wrist.
The man got out of his vehicle and ran to his house on foot. Paronish then allegedly took the man’s vehicle to head back to his own vehicle. However, he told police he accidentally drove the wrong way and actually ended up at the man’s house. In a quick attempt to escape, he claimed he backed into the man’s garage doors before making off.
Once Paronish reached his vehicle, he left the man’s vehicle on the side of the road and fled to his own house along Municipal Road in Susquehanna Township.
The man called 911 around 11:20 a.m. to tell them he had just been assaulted. At 11:40 a.m., Paronish called 911 to tell them that he had just been shot while standing in his driveway, alleging that the shooter picked up the brass and fled the scene.
At the Priesser Road scene, police noted there was blood, spent .9mm casings and fired bullets found in and around the man’s vehicle in addition to tire marks, indicating a separate vehicle may have fled the area. Police also said they found broken glass near the bridge over Elk Creek, which they said confirmed a possible shooting scene. They also noted that the back of the man’s vehicle was damaged in addition to his garage doors.
At Paronish’s house, he was being treated by EMS on scene for his gunshot wounds when police arrived. Police noted finding blood on Paronish as well as in the kitchen, vehicle and outside his detached garage door. Due to his injuries, Paronish was transported to the hospital via helicopter.
In an interview in April, police said Paronish admitted that he went to the man’s house to record what he was doing and staged his vehicle about a mile away. He also told police he had starter fluid in his jacket pocket from working on his tractor earlier that morning. Paronish claimed he used the starter fluid in self-defense when the man shot him and told police that the man was the aggressor.
Police noted the man claimed he gave a false report about the shooting in his driveway because he was dizzy from losing a lot of blood.
Given the circumstances, the Cambria County District Attorney’s Office said the use of a firearm by the man was in self-defense and justified in this case.
Paronish was arraigned on his charges Wednesday, including aggravated assault, simple assault, harassment, recklessly endangering another person, criminal mischief, false report and trespassing. An unsecured bail of $100,000 was set.
His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 27.