Preliminary hearing for 2 suspects in July 4 shooting

After four surgeries and two weeks at a trauma center, Davonte Middleton left the medical center with a bullet still inside him.

“They couldn’t get it out,” the 17-year-old said, referring to doctors’ inability to remove the bullet, which remains lodged in his lungs.

During 20 minutes of testimony on Thursday, Middleton talked about his ordeal of getting shot in the back outside the YMCA near Elmira Street and Center Place shortly after the city’s fireworks show on July 4.

Middleton was one of five people to testify at the 90-minute preliminary hearing of Demetri Demarr Carroll, 18, of 2124 Webb St., and Derrick Wayne Moyer, 19, of the 600 block of Grier St.

At the conclusion of the hearing, which was held at the County Court House for security purposes, District Judge James Carn ruled there was sufficient evidence to hold both Carroll and Moyer on all charges, including attempted homicide and aggravated assault.

City police accused the two teenagers of firing a handgun into a crowd outside the YMCA just before 11 p.m., which resulted in Middleton getting shot.

Middleton, who was coming from the fireworks show, said he started running from a large crowd because he was hearing several shots being fired.

Even after being hit in the back, Middleton, who was 16 at the time, managed to run another block or two where a passerby picked him up and drove him to the Williamport Regional Medical Center.

Middleton testified that he never saw who shot him.

Middleton’s mother, Michelle Dixon, then took the stand and told Carn that she rushed to the hospital, but was not allowed to see her son as doctors still were assessing the nature of his injuries. Her son quickly was flown to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, where he underwent a series of surgeries.

“The doctors opened his stomach because they thought (at first) that the bullet was in his spleen, but it was in his lungs,” Dixon said.

Middleton’s lungs then collapsed, Dixon said.

“He has lots of scars,” Dixon said, referring to the physical injuries with which her son is left following the shooting. She said her son was discharged from Geisinger after 15 days.

Investigators believe that the shooting occurred shortly after a fight involving Carroll and Tashi Clay on Center Place. The fight, which got the attention of a large crowd, left Carroll visibly shaken, police said in court papers.

Carroll and Moyer were together, and Carroll knew that Moyer had with him a handgun, police said. Carroll asked for the gun, which Moyer willingly handed over. Carroll allegedly fired three shots in the direction of the crowd before handing the gun back to Moyer, who then fired two more shots into the crowd, investigators alleged.

On the stand Thursday, city police Agent Raymond O. Kontz III, the lead investigator in the case, testified that Carroll and Moyer both admitted to police that they each shot into the crowd.

Kontz also testified that on the night of the shooting, Moyer also ended up in the emergency room because as he and Carroll were fleeing the scene, he accidentally shot himself in the leg with the handgun, which he then tossed near an alley. Police recovered the weapon, which turned out to be stolen from a vehicle in the city in early August 2011.

Through testimony, as well as questioning by a reporter following the hearing, it was revealed that Carroll was a witness to the deadly shooting that occurred in Da’Ran Malik Sears’ apartment at 1261 W. Fourth St. on the afternoon of June 13.

Sears, 19, told police he was “handling a handgun” when it discharged, fatally wounding Donte Marks, 22, of the 800 block of High Street. Sears remains incarcerated in the Lycoming County Prison on charges of involuntary manslaughter and related offenses in connection with this shooting. The gun was recovered in the apartment and it too was stolen.

Kontz said after Marks was shot, Carroll ran outside to Marks’ car and quickly removed a handgun and hid it before returning to the apartment to be questioned by police.

On the stand, Kontz said the gun removed from Marks’ vehicle turned out to be the same weapon Carroll and Moyer allegedly fired into the crowd.

Both Carroll and Moyer will face further court action on charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering, possession of an instrument of crime, receiving stolen property and conspiracy. Both men remain incarcerated in lieu of high bail.

At the beginning of Thursday’s hearing, police withdrew one count of convicted felon not to possess a firearm against Moyer. Charged in a robbery case as a juvenile, investigators later learned that Moyer was never convicted.