Federal guilty plea for York man who shot daughter accidentally

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Jorge Luis Rosa-Hernandez

A York City man accused of accidentally shooting his 4-year-old daughter inside a fast-food restaurant last spring has pleaded guilty to a related federal charge.

Jorge Luis Rosa-Hernandez, 34, of the first block of South Queen Street, appeared in Harrisburg's federal court on Dec. 27 and pleaded guilty to the felony of being a convicted felon in illegal possession of a firearm, according to court records.

York City Police said he shot his daughter in the leg inside the McDonald's restaurant at 142 S. George St. on April 29.

Rosa-Hernandez was hitching up his pants when the gun went off, police said.

A bullet from the .45-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol ricocheted off the floor and struck his daughter, who suffered a grazing wound, according to police.

She has recovered, according to defense attorney John Yaninek, who represented Rosa-Hernandez.

"He feels just terrible about it," Yaninek said of his client.

Rosa-Hernandez remains charged in York County Court with aggravated assault on a child, child endangerment, reckless endangerment, being a felon in illegal firearm possession and carrying a firearm without a license.

He has a pretrial conference on the York County charges scheduled for Feb. 6, according to court records.

Prison likely: Rosa-Hernandez will likely be sentenced in his federal case in May, according to Yaninek.

"We anticipate he'll have to go to prison over this," the attorney said.

The .45-caliber pistol Rosa-Hernandez had in his pants that day is legally owned by his wife, but he grabbed it after seeing some people outside McDonald's who caused him concern, according to Yaninek.

"He believes there were some individuals near his car that were pointing at his car," the attorney said. "He felt there was the potential for a problem. That's why he put the firearm in his pocket."

Police have said the wife's gun was in the glove compartment of the couple's vehicle.

After the shooting, Rosa-Hernandez rushed his daughter and wife to York Hospital, Yaninek said.

Police said Rosa-Hernandez then fled the hospital but returned about an hour later and was arrested.

Convicted felon: The reason he is barred from possessing, or even handling, firearms is because he is a convicted felon.

In 2011, Rosa-Hernandez pleaded guilty in Lancaster County Court to the felony of drug possession with intent to deliver, according to court records.

In 2017, he pleaded guilty in York County Court to an ungraded misdemeanor drug-possession charge that carries a minimum sentence of a year, records state. Federal authorities consider some Pennsylvania misdemeanors as "felonies" — those that are punishable by at least a year in prison.

A federal grand jury indicted Rosa-Hernandez on Sept. 19 for illegal firearm possession by a felon, according to court records.

Surveillance video from the McDonald's captured the accidental shooting.

"You can see the whole thing happen, and it's clearly an accident," Yaninek said of the video.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.