Police are saying a man shot in the back last month actually staged the incident to make it appear as if he were shot while the victim of a robbery, all so he could delay repaying a poker debt.
Spring Garden Township Police are charging Dennis Charles Schaller, 51, of 520 Rockhill Lane, with one count each of criminal conspiracy and making a false report to a police officer, both third-degree misdemeanors, said Chief George Swartz.
Police responded to a building at 630 Loucks Mill Road shortly before 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13 for a reported shooting and found the injured Schaller, who had been shot once in the back, according to Swartz. He was conscious as he was placed in an ambulance and taken to York Hospital, police said, and he recovered from the non-life-threatening injury.
The shooting spurred a manhunt by township officers, with help from Springettsbury Township Police and York City Police. At the time, police said the shooter was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a mask, was armed with a handgun and was last seen running north on Loucks Mill Road toward Route 30.
Officers at the scene interviewed witnesses and reviewed surveillance tape for clues, Swartz said.
"Early on in the investigation, it just didn't add up," the chief said.
Swartz said it's not clear how or even whether Schaller allegedly shot himself, as police are looking for a second individual who was with him when he arrived at the Loucks Mill Road building.
That person shoved Schaller and fired shots at a surveillance camera mounted on the outside of building and at a glass door before running off, documents say.
The person to whom Schaller owed money was at the building, the chief said, so the incident was staged there to "prove" Schaller was on his way to repay the money when he was robbed of it and shot.
According to charging documents, Schaller told police he staged the robbery at the door "so it would be on video for this person to see for themselves ..."
Schaller admitted the entire orchestration to the police, according to the documents, saying he didn't have money with him when he showed up for the poker night that's regularly held on the building's second floor.
Police were able to determine Schaller had actually been shot before he exited a vehicle to approach the building, Swartz said. Surveillance video showed Schaller approaching the building, then a "robber" approaching Schaller from behind and shooting out the camera by the door, the chief said.
Swartz said he's not sure about the amount of money Schaller allegedly owed, but he's probably going to be facing even more expense associated with the alleged staging.
"In my many years of law enforcement, this is the first time I ever had an individual shoot himself to stage a shooting," Swartz said. "That's gotta hurt, ya think?"
He said the moral of the story is "Think twice before you intentionally shoot yourself."
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call township police at (717) 843-0851, or call 911.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.