Back in 2019, Derry Borough, Pennsylvania mayor Kevin Gross was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and harassment after he allegedly pointed a gun at several teenagers in a park who had accosted his young son. “It was definitely over the top,” Pennsylvania State Trooper Stephen Limani told KDKA-TV at the time of the arrest, and the ensuing media attention ultimately forced Gross to to resign.
Gross didn’t admit any guilt, however, and this week his case finally went to trial. The felony aggravated assault charge was dropped just before the trial began, and it ended up taking jurors just a few hours to clear Gross of the misdemeanor charges that remained.
“I think the charges filed against Mr. Gross were improperly filed. I don’t think there was any evidence whatsoever that he intended to intimidate anybody. He was reacting in a situation like anybody would react, and doing what he thought was best in that split second,” attorney Tim Andrews said. “Obviously we’re ecstatic by the verdict, we feel it’s justified. Mr. Gross and his family have gone through two years of hell awaiting this trial and he’s ecstatic and his family’s ecstatic, maybe they can move forward with their lives.”
The judge also granted a request from the defense that Gross get his firearms back that investigators confiscated from him home two years ago.
The Assistant District Attorney prosecuting the case said he was disappointed for the victims but respects the jury’s decision.
The Pittsburg Post-Gazette has more details on the trial and its outcome.
In court, Mr. Gross and Mr. Andrews disputed allegations that Mr. Gross pointed a gun directly at children. Mr. Andrews previously said his client is a veteran of the Iraq War and thus knows better.
One of the children involved in the incident, a 15-year-old boy, testified in court that Mr. Gross pointed a revolver directly at him after he started physically fighting with two other teenagers — one of whom police identified as Mr. Gross’s son.
Mr. Andrews explained by phone Thursday that Mr. Gross believed the boy who was fighting had a weapon. The attorney said Mr. Gross repeatedly and unsuccessfully ordered the boy to remove himself off a younger boy, adding Mr. Gross, who was roughly 10 feet away, drew his gun 45 degrees to the ground but “never pointed it” at the boy.
Once the fight ended, Mr. Gross became aware that the boy did not have a weapon, Mr. Andrews said.
“At that point he immediately reupholstered his weapon,” he said.
Police said Mr. Gross also pointed his gun at three girls — one 12-year-old and two 14-year-olds — who were bystanders. He ordered them to put their belongings on a bench and did not allow them to call their parents.
The three girls testified in court they had been afraid.
Mr. Andrews said in previous comments that his client “asked the other young girls who were there to stay there as witnesses” to ensure “this came out the right way.”
It took two years for Gross to stand trial, and just four hours for a jury of his peers to acquit him.
During the years between his arrest and acquittal, Gross was disarmed not only of the revolver that he carried the day of the confrontation, but his entire collection of about fifty firearms. The judge overseeing the case has ordered those guns returned to their rightful owner, and hopefully there it won’t take nearly as long for Gross to get his guns back as it took for him to get justice.