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Man faces charges after target practice goes awry

By Staff | Apr 13, 2010

PENNSDALE – A Muncy Township man who was target shooting with an assault rifle faces charges after the shots he fired last month came within inches of striking two former fire chiefs who were participating in a weekend training event at the Muncy Area Mutual Aid Association’s training facility, according to township police.

Gary F. Clees, 57, of 822 Pond Road has been charged with recklessly endangering and criminal mischief as a result of the incident that occurred just after 2 p.m. March 14.

Dozens of student firefighters dove for cover as the shots rang across the training grounds on Gleason Road, just off of Lycoming Mall Drive.

One bullet came within “inches of striking either” former Muncy Creek Township Fire Chief Scott Delany or former Muncy Valley Fire Chief Linwood Myers, both of whom were in the training center’s command trailer when a shot came through a window, exited out through a door and landed in an old school bus outside.

“Delany said he felt glass land on his shoulder,” Patrolman Rodney W. Smith said in an affidavit.

Clees, who was target shooting outside his home with his son Ryan, allegedly fired “several rounds that traveled several hundred yards, striking two occupied buildings where firefighters were training,” Smith said.

The fire association was conducting its annual weekend training event at the time.

“We cleared the grounds when we heard the shots,” said Picture Rocks Fire Chief Al Little, who is chairman of the training event.

Firefighters remained hunkered down in two cinder block buildings for about 30 minutes until it was safe for them to come out. Within that time, investigators had determined that the shots came from across Interstate 180 at the Clees property and had spoken to both the father and the son. Although Ryan Clees also was firing shots, no charges were filed against him.

Smith said Gary Clees told investigators that if charges were to be filed, he would take full responsibility. The father has been sent a summons to appear before District Judge C. Roger McRae.