Man faces prison for shooting at woman in van

A man pleaded guilty Monday to an aggravated assault charge for shooting at his ex-girlfriend as she fled from him in a van in September of last year. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of intimidating a witness for attempting to obstruct the victim’s testimony, according to the district attorney’s office.

Darnell Robert Mitchell, 27, entered the plea before Judge Marc F. Lovecchio and faces four to eight years in state prison, according to a source in the district attorney’s office.

Mitchell fired several times at Shondra J. Major as she drove away in her minivan in the 1400 block of Park Avenue on Sept. 25, 2013.

Major was not injured, but the van was struck twice by the gunfire, once behind the driver’s door and once at the back of the vehicle, an affidavit said.

The victim gave a videotaped statement to police following the incident and identified Mitchell as the shooter and said she could see him in her rear-view mirror running toward the van as she pulled away, police said.

The shooting followed an argument Mitchell and Major had over the van. City police Agent Raymond O. Kontz III told the Sun-Gazette in September that Mitchell had failed to return Major’s van to her, so she went to Mitchell’s residence on Park Avenue to get it back.

When Major testified during a preliminary hearing on Oct. 29, she gave a different story than the one she initially told police, indicating “that she was now not sure that the person that shot at her vehicle was Mitchell,” according to the affidavit.

The affidavit also said Major had been reluctant to testify against Mitchell because he was the father of her children.

After the preliminary hearing, the district attorney’s office requested recordings of phone calls Mitchell made while incarcerated in the county prison.

While listening to the recordings, agent Kontz found that “from the time that Mitchell was incarcerated he began urging people to contact ‘the girl and explain to her the situation,’ emphasizing the amount of time he was facing,” the affidavit said. Mitchell spoke with others requesting that they tell Major not to identify him so he could be released from prison, police said.

In a phone call that Mitchell made to Major on Oct. 9, he told her “she could change her story,” and the police could only give her a fine, which he would pay when he got released from jail, the affidavit said.