Conewago Twp. man arrested twice in 2 days in municipal dust-up
- Police arrested Chad Stoner twice in less than 24 hours, both for incidents at the Conewago Twp. building.
- Police allege Stoner disrupted a township meeting on Aug. 3, then made a threat the next day at the building.
- Defense attorney Farley Holt said Stoner's free-speech rights are being violated.
A Conewago Township man who has clashed with his township's supervisors for about two years is now in county prison and forbidden — for now — from stepping foot in the Conewago Township building.
Less than 24 hours after being arrested for allegedly disrupting the township supervisors' meeting, Chad Michael Stoner walked back into the township building at 490 Copenhaffer Road shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday with a gun and a knife, according to charging documents filed by Northern York County Regional Police.
Accompanying him was his girlfriend, Emily Winand, police said.
Township manager Lou Anne Bostic let them in and was speaking with Stoner, who was upset about being arrested the night before, according to documents.
During that conversation, Stoner said that if township Supervisor Chairwoman Lorreta Wilhide "keeps it up," Conewago Township "will be like Houston, Texas," documents allege.
Bostic told Stoner she didn't know what he meant by that, "to which Stoner replied, 'that's where all the police officers were shot,'" documents allege.
At the time, Stoner was wearing a holster that held a large silver revolver, and he carried a sheath knife on his belt, documents state.
'Legitimate threat': After Stoner left, Bostic called 911 and told a responding officer that the statement made her very uncomfortable and that she "thought the comment was a legitimate threat," according to charging documents.
Albert Neufeld Jr., the township's zoning and codes-enforcement officer, told officers he heard Stoner make the statement and said that based on Stoner's demeanor, Neufeld also believed it was a legitimate threat, documents state.
Officers reviewed security footage from the township building and determined the large revolver in the holster Stoner was wearing "appeared to be a real firearm," documents allege.
Police filed a firearms charge against Stoner alleging he violated the concealed-weapons law when he got into his car with the gun on his hip, according to Stoner's defense attorney, Farley Holt.
Holt told The York Dispatch he now has the gun in question, and it's not a firearm. It's a CO2-propelled gun that fires rubber balls and pepper balls, and it is less lethal than a pellet gun, according to Holt.
Regularly carries: Holt said his client wears the gun in its holster regularly and nearly always carries the knife because Stoner works as a tree-cutter and needs to be able to slice through ropes quickly if he gets tangled in a tree.
The attorney confirmed Winand, Stoner's girlfriend, used her phone to record the entire encounter — a recording Holt has viewed. Holt said Stoner never threatened to shoot police.
"He's basically saying unless things change ... bad things are going to happen," the attorney said. "Not that he's going to do bad things."
Holt confirmed there's been animosity between Stoner and township officials — and also between Stoner and Northern Regional Police — for about two years.
Stoner, 28, of 910 Copenhaffer Road, is charged with making terroristic threats and carrying a firearm without a license. He remains in York County Prison on $35,000 bail. However, he cannot be released even if he posts bail in this case because on Friday, bail in his unrelated stalking case was revoked, according to court records.
The night before: Northern Regional Police were called to the township building about 7:15 p.m. Aug. 3, by Wilhide, who reported Stoner was causing a disturbance at the meeting.
Stoner began speaking during the public-comment section of the meeting but was stopped and told to speak at the microphone. (Either he or someone with him recorded the exchange and posted it on YouTube.)
"I find that arbitrary, and I don't want to do it," he said, and later added, "You want to show me where that's a township ordinance? Because if it's not a township ordinance, then it's arbitrary."
Stoner was asked again to go to the microphone and he again declined: "No, I'll continue as I was. ... I'm pretty sure I have a loud mouth."
"Well, you're accurate there," Wilhide quipped.
'Is there a problem?' Brian Klinger, vice chairman of the township supervisors, whispered something to Wilhide as Stoner was speaking, causing Stoner to stop and ask, "Is there a problem, Mr. Klinger?"
Klinger reiterated that supervisors want people to speak at the microphone.
After more back and forth, Stoner said, "Either we can stand here and argue and tie this whole meeting up for your simple, arbitrary and capricious rule, or I can continue on as I was and then I can sit down, and you don't have to deal with me anymore."
Wilhide responded, "OK. Hold up. Just a minute. I'll make a suggestion —" but was cut off by Stoner, who said: "Uh, no. Public comment is not over. You cannot supersede my public comment after the meeting has already started."
'Jack-booted thugs': When Wilhide responded she believed she could, Stoner took umbrage.
"No you can't," he told her. "I will not allow you to continue on. You better call your jack-booted thugs and have 'em get over here."
Wilhide then called a recess, prompting Stoner to reply, "Let's do it."
He stopped filming until the Northern Regional officer arrived. Stoner declined the officer's repeated suggestions that they talk outside and repeatedly asked if he was being arrested. After a minute of back-and-forth, the officer arrested Stoner.
For that encounter, Stoner is being charged with disrupting a public meeting and disorderly conduct. He has not yet been arraigned, according to the office of District Judge David Eshbach.
"There's a long history. ... I can say there was ill will on both sides that led up to this," Holt said. "But he's in jail for expressing his First Amendment rights — his political free speech."
Bostic and Wilhide did not return phone messages seeking comment, and neither did township solicitor Timothy Bupp.
Stalking case: Stoner also remains charged with stalking for allegedly repeatedly yelling at and threatening a neighbor of his brother, Brandon Stoner, according to charging documents.
The neighbor told police he and his family are in "constant fear" for their safety because of the Stoner family, documents allege.
"Chad Stoner has been warned numerous times and cited previously for the constant harassment of the ... family," documents state.
Militia? Asked about why Stoner and some of his family members wear T-shirts that read "Conewago Township Militia," Holt said he doesn't believe Stoner has actually started a militia. Holt said the T-shirts are meant to be humorous, like when someone wears an "FBI" shirt.
Stoner maintains his innocence in the stalking case as well.
When his bail was set on the alleged threats case, he was ordered to have no contact whatsoever with any township employees, to refrain from entering any township property, including the township building, to refrain from entering Northern Regional's police station and to refrain from having any contact with any victims or witnesses in his criminal cases, according to Eshbach's office.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.