Man charged with shooting bear
By Mark Gilger , Staff Writer
MOUNT CARMEL TOWNSHIP — A Mount Carmel man who allegedly illegally shot a 200-pound black bear with a .44 Magnum handgun behind International Paper Co. Monday morning faces multiple charges in connection with a joint investigation conducted by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Mount Carmel Township police.
Three other individuals who assisted the accused will be cited for trespassing, while a fifth person also may be charged in the case.
Frederick Slawek will be cited by Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Kris Krebs of the Northumberland District Office with shooting a black bear out of season between 9 and 10 a.m. Monday in a wooded area behind the International Paper plant, located along Route 2038 west of Mount Carmel. Slawek also will be charged by township police with defiant trespass and driving under suspension.
Michael Harhigh, Lenny McCormick, 31, and his 15-year-old stepson, Andrew, all of Mount Carmel, face trespassing charges, while McCormick’s wife, Tina McCormick, also may be charged. Lenny McCormick and his stepson, who fled from police on foot, also will be charged by Mount Carmel Township police with three counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of fleeing or eluding police.
Tim Conway, information and education supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission in Dallas, said two individuals found a dead bear behind International Paper at about 12:30 p.m. Monday.
Upon arriving at the scene at about 1:15 p.m., Krebs spoke to the individuals who found the bear, which had a single bullet wound. Conway, who didn’t specify where the bullet wound was found on the bear’s body, said the animal was left at the scene in hopes that whoever shot the bear would return to the area to claim it.
Game commission personnel kept the area under surveillance, and their efforts paid off a couple of hours later when the alleged shooter returned to the woods looking for his kill.
At about 3:30 p.m., Conway said Slawek arrived in a car to see if the bear was still where he shot it. Finding the bear was still there, Slawek drove away before returning about 45 minutes later in a car, followed by a pickup truck driven by Tina McCormick.
Conway said Slawek exited the car and got into the pickup truck with McCormick, who drove approximately several hundred yards into the wooded area behind the plant before coming back out of the woods and departing the scene.
At about this time, Krebs received a call from Mount Carmel Township Police Chief Donald Geary, who told him that he obtained information identifying Slawek as the probable person who shot the bear. Geary, his son, Patrolman Shane Geary and Cpl. Chris Dailey offered their assistance to the game commission and helped stake out the area, hoping Slawek would return.
Shortly before 6 p.m., a car and two pickup trucks containing Slawek, the McCormicks and Harhigh arrived with the intent of removing the bear from the woods. According to Conway, Tina McCormick and Harhigh were driving the pickup trucks.
Authorities allowed the group to go into the woods before converging on them as they tried to exit, Conway said. He said Slawek, who reportedly gutted the bear, was found in possession of a .44 Magnum handgun that he allegedly used to shoot the bear. He was taken into custody while on foot, while Tina McCormick and Harhigh were stopped by game commission personnel while driving the pickup trucks.
Upon being stopped by authorities, Lenny and Andrew McCormick fled into the woods, where they were pursued by Geary, his son and Dailey. The McCormicks were able to elude police, but turned themselves over to authorities at about 9:30 p.m. Monday at Mount Carmel Township Police Station in Atlas.
Conway, who noted that extended bear season ended Saturday, commended Mount Carmel Township police and three concerned sportsmen for their cooperation in the investigation that resulted in the apprehension of the five individuals.