DERRY, Pa. (KDKA) – His tenure as mayor lasted less than two years, but Derry Borough Mayor Kevin Gross has resigned his position.
“He took that job because he wanted to help Derry Borough and with all the publicity and everything surrounding this case he felt he was not going to be able to succeed in helping Derry Borough,” Gross’s attorney, Timothy Andrews, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Friday.
“So he thought it was best that he resign and some else take over while he deals with this matter.”
The “matter” was the arrest of the 38-year old mayor by State Police for pointing a loaded gun at a 15-year old boy at a local park on Broad Street, a teen who, police say, got in a scuffle with much younger kids, including the mayor’s son.
“The 15-year old, and he had shoved these kids to the ground,” said Trooper Stephen Limani earlier this week.
Summoned by his 11-year old son, the mayor showed up at the playground and is accused of pointing a gun at the older boy, ordering him to his knees, as well as pointing his gun at three nearby girls and ordering them to put their cell phones on a table.
“Mr. Gross absolutely denies those allegations, and the circumstances that occurred that day were very much different than what’s portrayed in the criminal complaint,” says Andrews.
The former mayor’s defense counsel says once the full story comes out, people will understand that Gross’s actions were those of a protective father.
Delano: “Was his child in danger on that playground?”
Andrews: “Once again, I can’t get into specifics about everything, but I do know that both his child and another child were engaged in what is believed to be an assault by an older boy.”
Attorney Andrews says his client had a conceal carry permit for his firearm and knew when to draw a weapon.
That’s not the State Police view.
“A rational person should be able to understand that scrape between a 15-year old and two 11-year old children, 12-year old, is not cause for someone to pull out a loaded handgun. [That’s] significantly over the top,” said Limani.
“He’s an Iraq War veteran who had to be medevaced out of Iraq after an injury,” responded Andrews.
“And he’s been trained enough, and he knows that he would not engage in the conduct he’s alleged to have engaged in.”
Andrews says what happened on that playground has been mischaracterized by State Police — and, instead, this was a father coming to the rescue of his young child being attacked by an older boy.
KDKA asked if the older boy had a weapon.
“I can’t get into specifics but that information will come forward as the case proceeds.”
“If anybody believes that their child or another child may be in danger of some kind of serious injury, you have to do something to ensure that the assault stops,” said Williams.
In the meantime, says Andrews, it’s been difficult for the Gross family.
“There’s been threats and strange comments on social media. People are driving past the house trying to take photographs. His children are concerned even about getting out in the borough and playing in the neighborhood.”
“It’s been very difficult.”
So far, says Attorney Aandrews, the threats have not turned violent, and he’s hopeful the Gross family will be left alone, as the case moves through the court system.
Charged with felony accounts of aggravated assault and several misdemeanor charges, the attorney thinks a number of them will be dismissed quickly once the facts are known.
The former mayor’s preliminary arraignment is expected next week.
As for Derry Borough, the council president — Chad Fabian — will serve as interim mayor until a successor is elected by council.