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Two Pennsylvania men have been charged with felony gun charges and criminal conspiracy after they fired 40 rounds with a .22 caliber rifle with a scope and silencer directly at a supermarket parking lot. Joseph B. Carr and James W. Pearson allegedly fired the shots at the shopping center at approximately 5:15 a.m. and struck a bench in front of a ShopRite supermarket and the window of a nearby Sovereign Bank.
There were employees in the parking lot of the ShopRite supermarket that had to run for cover from the onslaught of bullets; however the bank was closed at the time of the supermarket shooting.
While both Carr and Pearson have been taken into custody by law enforcement, they have been charged with discharge of a firearm into a occupied structure, criminal conspiracy, possession of an instrument of crime, recklessly endangering another person and criminal mischief, but not with attempted homicide.
Why is that? According to MSNBC, an investigation has shown that there was no intent by the shooters to target people or businesses in the shopping center. In order to be charged with an attempted crime, the intent to commit the crime must be present along with some step towards committing the crime. For example, for an attempted homicide charge, the shooters need to have the intent to kill someone coupled along with an actual act.
In this case, Warminster police Chief S. Michael Murphy told reporters that the shooters just felt like shooting rounds during the wee hours of the morning. MSNBC quotes Murphy as saying, "They were both shocked that people would be in the shopping center at that hour." He continued by saying, "Chalk it up to doing something really stupid."
Stupidity is generally not necessarily a good excuse for criminal acts. But in this case, it may have helped these Pennsylvania men dodge a pretty serious criminal charge.