The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 13, 2013

Union County gun threats trial gets under way

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

— LEWISBURG - A trial started Monday for a Lewisburg man accused of flashing a gun at a state Department of Transportation worker and driving past a road-closed barrier on River Road following local flooding in September 2011.

Daniel F. Rummel, 60, also is accused of flashing a gun at a Union County Housing Authority office worker in October 2011, when she opened an envelope Rummel had intended for an authority official.

Rummel is charged with terroristic threats, simple assault and disorderly conduct in the PennDOT case.

D. Peter Johnson, Union County district attorney, opened with PennDOT employee Kenneth Bair on the stand.

Bair donned the PennDOT vest and hard hat he wore the day he inspected the bridge on River Road for flood damage. The road was posted as being closed. While under the bridge examining it, Bair testified he heard a vehicle drive over it. He came up, yelled to Rummel that the road was closed and told him he could not drive on it. He also warned Rummel that he had driven through the road-closure barrier and could be arrested for failing to obey the sign.

At this point, Rummel pulled back his shirt to show a gun in a holster, court documents state. Rummel allegedly told Bair to “calm down and open the gate.”

When he saw the gun, Bair opened the gate, but he got the car’s license plate number as it passed. He later called police to report the matter.

Police Sgt. Frederick Hetrick went to Rummel’s home and asked him about the confrontation. Rummel initially denied the incident, but showed the officer the Beretta 90005 9mm, for which he had a permit.

After further questioning, Rummel allegedly admitted he was on St. Anthony Street and had encountered Bair, court documents state.

The second incident allegedly occurred after the Union County sheriff’s office revoked Rummel’s gun license, which he turned in at the office before Oct. 4, 2011.

In the housing authority case, Rummel wrote a letter to senior project manager David Zelner about the River Road incident and on Oct. 11, 2011, took it to authority offices on Industrial Road in East Buffalo Township to give to Zelner.

The secretary there opened the envelope as part of office procedure, Johnson said, and Rummel became upset. While the secretary tried to call him, Rummel allegedly leaned in and said “make sure you tell Dave Zelner I had this,” and flashed a gun in a holster.

Charges in the housing authority case include carrying a firearm while unlicensed as well as making terrorist threats and simple assault.

Defending his client, attorney Brian Ulmer said in his opening statement that Rummel had a weapon but surrendered it to police and didn’t have a weapon to possess for the housing authority incident.

“Mr. Rummel did not threaten anyone,” Ulmer said, saying that Rummel was “confronted irrationally” by Bair and that the cases are a “matter of misinterpretation.

“In this case, the more you dig, the less you find,” Ulmer said. “He’s not guilty.”

The trial continues today in Union County before President Judge Michael Sholley.