Saturday, November 18, 2023

Former West Penn Township Officer Charged for Alleged Stray Bullet Hitting Moving Vehicle

A former West Penn Township Police Officer is facing charges after a shot he fired allegedly struck a moving vehicle.

According to court papers filed by the Pennsylvania State Police at Frackville, Kai Apel, 30, of Lehighton, was charged with 2 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of unsworn falsification to authorities.

The charges, which were filed on November 8th, 2023, were in relation to an incident that occurred on April 12th, 2023, when Apel was working as an officer for the West Penn Township Police.

The Pennsylvania State Police took charge of the investigation at the request of District Attorney Mike O'Pake.

According to the affidavit, Apel responded to the area of 760 West Penn Pike/ Route 309 for a crash involving a struck deer.  After the crash cleared, Apel fired 4 rounds of his weapon at the deer parallel with the highway in the direction of oncoming traffic.

When one of the shots were fired, a fragment allegedly struck the driver's side of a windshield of a passing vehicle.

Several witnesses, the victim, and West Penn Township Police Chief James Bonner were interviewed.

Prior to State Police investigating the incident, Chief Bonner handled the investigation and recovered 4 shell casing in the area, and his weapon had 11 rounds left, indicating 4 shots were fired.  Chief Bonner turned all evidence including reports, statements, and camera footage to State Police.

The witnesses interviewed reported hearing the 4 shots in quick succession.

During an interview with State Police, Apel reported that he fired 3 shots and waited between each shot and also said he fired his weapon away from the roadway at the deer in the direction of ann embankment.  Apel told police that it would be very hard for him to believe his bullet could have struck the victim's vehicle due to the direction he was shooting.

State Police said that there was a contradiction in the information received from witnesses and what Apel said in his interview.

As a result, Trooper Zachary McDonald filed the charges on November 8th, 2023, and Apel is scheduled to appear before Magisterial District Judge Dave Plachko on December 19th, 2023, for a preliminary hearing.