Charges Filed In Fatal Grocery Store Parking Lot Shooting

WASHINGTON, Pa. (KDKA) – A man has been charged in connection with a fatal shooting outside of a grocery store in Washington County last week.

According to police, Brandon Thomas, 30, of Upper St. Clair, has been charged in connection with the shooting death of 55-year-old Vaughn Simonelli.

The shooting was reported just before 4 p.m. Thursday in the Shop N’ Save parking lot in the 100-block of West Beau Street in the City of Washington.

Witnesses say the shooting victim, apparently upset over a collision, approached Thomas’ Hummer and a heated argument followed.

Investigators say they believe the incident started on the road a while before the vehicles got to the parking lot. But the defense argues the so-called Castle Doctrine could apply.

Defense attorney Frank Walker was in Washington County Monday investigating just that.

Walker: “Essentially in Pennsylvania, if you are in a domain or you are in a place – abode, a home, a car – that’s occupied and someone comes in, you have the right to shoot and defend yourself. So, that’s what it is in this state in generalities.”

KDKA’s Harold Hayes: “And that’s why you have to pin down who was where and when?”

Walker: “Who was where, who instigated, what level of instigation and what level of force was appropriate at that time. Was it in the car? If he was outside of the car, there’s different issues. However, our investigation in the case, all intents and purposes, he was inside the car.”

The prosecution will argue that Thomas’ use of force was not appropriate, but all a magistrate has to decide this week is whether there’s enough evidence to send the case to trial.

A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.


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