BLAIRSVILLE — Shooting a buck in a Walmart parking lot counts as a “conscious disregard” for other people’s safety, Magistrate Judge Jennifer Rega said at a preliminary hearing Wednesday morning for Arcangelo Bianco Jr. as she held the charges over for trial in the Court of Common Pleas.
“I think common sense dictates that was a conscious disregard,” Rega said.
Bianco, 40, of Derry, was charged in March with a misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment as well as five summary offenses, all hunting law violations.
He will face all the charges in the Court of Common Pleas.
His attorney, Jason Huska, of Latrobe, argued that Bianco was shooting the buck behind the store, and that a rise in the grade of the area up to Old Route 22 meant he was shooting toward an embankment rather than a highway.
He argued Bianco was not aware of any people in the vicinity, and that as such he had not consciously disregarded their safety; conscious disregard is required for the count of reckless endangerment.
Assistant District Attorney Jay Carmella countered that firing shots in the parking lot of a Walmart during daylight hours the week before Thanksgiving — when presumably the store would be busy with holiday shoppers — was itself disregarding others’ well-being.
Huska called no witnesses, and Bianco did not address the court.
But Carmella called two: Dominick Hewitt, a Walmart employee who watched the incident unfold from the Lawn and Garden patio area, and Jack Lucas, a wildlife conservation officer with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Hewitt said he had been loading trailers when he saw a vehicle back up, park, and the driver jump out and start running.
Then he saw the deer. He said the man and the buck ran across the back end of Lawn and Garden, that the man fired two shots, then another, then finally fired two more in someone’s yard across the road.
He said that after the buck was down the man returned for his truck, and then saw him and told him that he thought the deer had been injured and should be taken care of.
He said the man, whom he identified as Bianco, then loaded the buck into his truck and left.
Lucas said he reviewed surveillance video from the store and noted the blood from where the animal was shot. He said the shots were fired within the 150-foot safety zone around occupied structures.
He also said he recovered the deer’s carcass from a butcher, but by the time he found the taxidermist where the head and antlers had been taken, Bianco had taken them, he said.
Bianco told him that he had thrown them out, he said.
A trial date has not been set. Bianco remains free on his own recognizance.