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PA Bill Number: HB1188

Title: In hunting and furtaking, further providing for unlawful devices and methods.

Description: In hunting and furtaking, further providing for unlawful devices and methods. ...

Last Action: Act No. 41

Last Action Date: Jul 1, 2020

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Pennsylvania Self-Defense: Arrests made in deadly shootout at Scranton club :: 08/09/2019

SCRANTON — An off-duty security guard acted in self-defense when he shot and wounded three men, one fatally, during a Mother’s Day shootout outside a North Scranton after-hours club, an investigation concluded.

 Photo: N/A, License: N/A


 Photo: N/A, License: N/A


City police arrested two other men Thursday for their roles in the May 12 incident outside the now-shuttered Castle, 1826 N. Main Ave., including the gunman they identified as the instigator, but brought no charges against Damion Pitters after determining he was defending himself when he opened fire.

A Scranton man, Parker D. Palermo, 20, died at Geisinger Community Medical Center after police say he was shot by Pitters during the melee, which happened just after the Castle closed at 5 a.m.

Investigators charged James Montalvo-Gaston, 20, 805 S. Keyser Ave., who was with Palermo outside the club and was seriously wounded in the incident, with aggravated assault and several other offenses.

“After an extensive and thorough investigation by Scranton police, which included interviews with multiple eyewitnesses and a review of surveillance video footage, we have determined that Montalvo-Gaston was the primary aggressor and initiated the violence that erupted outside the Castle,” Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell said.

The second man arrested Thursday, Joseff Conrad Baskerville, 28, 166 S. Grant St., Wilkes-Barre, faces a single count of carrying a firearm without a license.

Baskerville also fired a weapon during the incident, but investigators concluded he, like Pitters, acted in self-defense.

In all, at least 21 shots were fired during the shootout, police said.

According to investigators, Pitters is licensed to carry a firearm and provides security services to area nightclubs, although he was not working for the Castle the night of the shooting.

Pitters told police he was leaving the Castle with friends when three men — later identified as Montalvo-Gaston, Palermo and Kwayshawn Adams — confronted him on North Main Avenue, with Montalvo-Gaston displaying a handgun in his waistband and repeatedly motioning as though he were going to draw the weapon.

Fearing for his life, Pitters pulled out his own 9 mm handgun, prompting Montalvo-Gaston to draw his weapon, making threats as he pointed it at Pitters and his friends, according to the arrest affidavit. Pitters said he told Montalvo-Gaston several times to put the weapon down before he believes Montalvo-Gaston shot at him and he returned fire.

Montalvo-Gaston fell to the sidewalk, and Pitters told police he went to the man’s side, kicked away the firearm and knelt down to administer aid.

At that point, Palermo kicked Pitters in the head and face area, and Pitters fired two or three shots at his attacker, police said. Investigators said one of the bullets hit Palermo in the abdomen and another struck Adams in the right shoulder.

Baskerville, who police say was carrying another 9 mm registered to Pitters, told investigators he was about 15 yards away as the confrontation unfolded. He said Montalvo-Gaston pulled a gun from his waistband and asked, “Who wants to die?” before saying, “You can die right now,” as he fired a shot, according to the affidavit.

Baskerville told police he then pulled his gun out and fired in Montalvo-Gaston’s direction.

Police interviewed multiple other witnesses who backed up Pitters’ account of the events.

Although several people told police it appeared Montalvo-Gaston fired the first shot, investigators acknowledged the 21 shell casings recovered at the scene came from just two weapons — 15 from Pitters’ gun and six from the gun used by Baskerville.

The gun carried by Montalvo-Gaston was taken before officers arrived at the shooting scene and has not been recovered, police said.

Magisterial District Judge Paul Keeler arraigned Montalvo-Gaston on two counts each of aggravated and simple assault, possession of a firearm prohibited, firearms not to be carried without a license, terroristic threats and recklessly endangering another person.

He was held in Lackawanna County Prison on $125,000 bail pending a preliminary hearing at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 21.

Baskerville, who was released by Keeler on $50,000 unsecured bail, faces a preliminary hearing the same day at 11:30 a.m.

The Castle club has been closed since the shooting. Powell’s office has petitioned county court to shut the establishment down as a public and drug-related nuisance. Since 2016, city police have responded to more than 200 calls at the club.

Contact the writer: 570-348-9132