Victim of alleged church parking lot shooter testifies

Christopher Downs was “shocked and surprised” when his ex-girlfriend suddenly pulled a handgun out of her pocketbook and began firing at him in a church parking lot in the city’s Newberry neighborhood just before 6 p.m. on July 29.

“I pulled up my hands and backed up. I was very scared. She opened fire on me,” the 28-year-old man testified Thursday at the preliminary hearing for Christina Marie Emerick.

At some point, he turned to get away from her.

City police allege Emerick, 23, of 2116 Hillside Ave., allegedly tried to kill Downs by firing her revolver at him until she emptied it.

“I tied to get away, but she kept shooting. When I was hit I don’t know if I was running or walking,” Downs said.

He and Emerick had ended a five-year relationship just two days before the shooting occurred in the far western end of St. John’s-Newberry United Methodist Church parking lot at 2101 Newberry St., police said.

“As I was moving across the parking lot, I heard more shots. I felt them hit me. I believe five times,”

Downs testified.

“I thought I was going to die,” he added.

Following the 20-minute hearing, which was held at the County Courthouse for security purposes, District Judge James Carn ruled there was sufficient evidence to hold Emerick on all charges.

Downs testified that shortly before the shooting, he and another woman were together looking at a home he was thinking of buying on Second Avenue in the city. Downs said that Emerick suddenly arrived, pulling up behind his vehicle in her car.

“Come on boy, we need to talk,” Downs said Emerick told him.

Downs told Emerick that he wanted to take the woman who was with him back to where her car was parked in the St. John’s-Newberry lot. So Emerick followed him back to the lot, where the other woman got in her vehicle and left, according to Downs’ testimony.

Downs got out of his car and was leaning against the vehicle as Emerick began to ask him questions.

“I answered them. She proceeded to tell me she was going to kill me,” Downs told the judge.

This is when Emerick allegedly pulled out her gun and began firing at Downs. When she ran out of ammunition, Downs said “she began to beat me with her gun on the back of my head.”

“You’re going to die. I’m going to kill you,” Downs said he remembered Emerick telling him he lay gravely wounded on the ground.

Downs was flown to Geisinger, where, according to his testimony, he was treated for two collapsed lungs, as well as injuries to his liver, kidneys and head.

“I have lead poisoning,” he told Carn.

From the stand, Downs pointed at Emerick and identified her as the alleged assailant.

When the shots were fired, Downs testified, “there were people crossing the parking lot, people waiting to go into the church, as well as others sitting on front porches.”

“There were people in all directions,” he added.

Also taking the stand at the hearing was Agent Ronald Bachman, one of the first officers to arrive at the shooting scene.

When he got there, another officer had already handcuffed Emerick, who was heard saying to the wounded ex-boyfriend “How’s that feel? I hope you die. I should have taken your life. I wished I did,” Bachman testified.

Jailed in the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $500,000 bail, Emerick will face further court action on charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering and possession of an instrument crime.