Police: Gunfire at Newberry Twp. salvage yard was part of ownership dispute

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Progress Auto Salvage in Newberry Township

A landlord-tenant dispute is at the heart of Tuesday night's encounter at a Newberry Township salvage yard, during which a man fired a gun.

No one was hurt, Newberry Township Police said.

Thomas Eugene Davis Jr., 28, of the 2300 block of 10th Street in Harrisburg, was arraigned Wednesday, Aug. 7, at the county's central booking unit, according to court records.

He remains in York County Prison on $25,000 bail, charged with the misdemeanors of reckless endangerment, simple assault, disorderly conduct and loitering and prowling at night, records state.

According to charging documents, township officers were dispatched to Progress Auto Salvage in the 900 block of Old Rossville Road about 8:45 p.m Tuesday, Aug. 6, for a report of an active shooter.

Officers quickly determined no one was actively shooting, police said, but it took some time to sort out what happened.

Chaos: "There was a lot of chaos," Newberry Township Police Chief Steven Lutz said. "I believe we had seven people detained."

Thomas Eugene Davis Jr.

That's because one group of people claimed someone from a second group shot at them, while the second group claimed it was someone in the first group who fired, according to the chief.

Four of those detained, including Davis, were found at the nearby J&L Market on West Front Street just outside Lewisberry, charging documents state.

Davis admitted to firing a gun twice and said he feared for his safety after Emeka Oguejiofor — who owns the business but not the property — drove up outside the gates and revved his vehicle's engine, according to Lutz.

"He admitted to shooting into the air to scare people away," the chief said. "My understanding is, (Davis) was watching the place ... to make sure no one came in to steal items."

Davis was doing that on behalf of Konstantinos Sgagias, who owns the property, Lutz said.

Ongoing disputes: There have been disputes between Sgagias and Oguejiofor in which township police were called since February or March, the chief confirmed.

The matters of whether Sgagias can evict Oguejiofor and who owns the salvaged auto parts and other moveable property there remain in civil court, Lutz said.

On July 25, District Judge Scott Gross granted Sgagias' court petition for $12,000 in back-due rent, according to court records. Oguejiofor said he is appealing.

The dispute has spilled out of the courtroom, with each side accusing the other of wrongdoing, according to the chief.

"Both sides appear to be utilizing the police departments to file reports," Lutz said. "However, with this being an ongoing civil matter, it's very difficult for the police department to determine who the victim is ... or who the owner is."

Thomas Eugene Davis Jr.

Oguejiofor told The York Dispatch on Wednesday that Sgagias sends people to the salvage yard nightly to take items. He claims people recently stole 50 automotive engines.

But Lutz said that the salvage yard and building are in such disarray, it's impossible to confirm that property was actually stolen because there are no records to prove the property existed and no areas that appear to have been emptied out.

Also, Sgagias is the legal owner of the property, so at the end of the day, it's unclear who owns what inside, the chief said.

Finger pointing: "Each side is accusing the other," Lutz said.

Oguejiofor maintains Davis fired directly at him, but Lutz said the police investigation determined that wasn't the case.

Oguejiofor also said someone with Davis was holding a bomb but fled before officers arrived. Lutz said no one at the scene Tuesday night reported anyone there having a bomb.

Oguejiofor said police handcuffed him and put him in the back of a cruiser but later released him and thanked him for his cooperation.

The detained people were handcuffed because officers initially had no idea who was a victim and who had fired a gun, according to Lutz.

York attorney John Ogden, who represents Sgagias in the civil dispute, could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Business alerted: During Tuesday night's incident, a fire police officer went to Reeser's Soft Ice Cream and alerted them to the basics of what was going on, according to proprietor Don Reeser Jr.

"He was great," Reeser said. "Even though we were far out of range, in a situation like that you want to err on the side of caution."

Reeser said he then alerted customers.

"We had five or six groups of customers outside," he told The York Dispatch. "I spoke with each of them calmly. I told them, 'There's someone out there with a gun. We think they are contained.'

Don Reeser Jr. of the family-owned Reeser's Soft Ice Cream

"Everybody stayed," Reeser said. "Law enforcement and fire police really did a great job, giving us enough information to help us make decisions."

He said he offered to close down for the night, but fire police told him it wasn't necessary. Reeser said many people called the longtime family business to make sure everyone was safe.

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