Montgomery County officials yesterday announced the arrest of a 17-year-old Norristown boy in connection with a July 22 confrontation on the Schuylkill River Bike Trail in Plymouth Township that ended in gunfire.
When police searched the juvenile's home Friday, they also found what District Attorney Risa Ferman called a bicycle "chop shop."
Ferman said the boy was somehow obtaining bicycles, deconstructing them and using the parts to build other bikes for resale.
Cops are investigating whether the bikes were stolen, Ferman said.
Police have not determined whether several assaults along the trail are related to the "chop shop," she added.
For the incident on the bike trail, the boy was adjudicated delinquent for simple assault at a court hearing on Monday and was held pending a disposition hearing, Ferman said.
Yesterday's announcement stemmed from last Wednesday's incident in which Joseph James DePaul Jr., 27, attempted to enter the trail but the 17-year-old and a 15-year-old boy, who were not identified, blocked his entry.
DePaul was able to go around the boys but they followed him and a confrontation followed, Ferman said.
"The 17-year-old actually kicked him, kicking him in the ribs and almost knocking him off the bike causing him to ride into the fence," Ferman said.
"That encounter ultimately led [DePaul]to pull out a firearm and fire shots towards the 17-year-old," Ferman said.
DePaul felt he was firing in self-defense, Ferman said, but he was charged with attempted murder, manslaughter and assault.
DePaul was arrested the day of the incident.
Ferman said yesterday that DePaul, who is scheduled to appear in court today for a preliminary hearing, will not be facing such serious charges.
However, "there is an aspect of his conduct that needs to be examined and we have to decide what the appropriate resolution will be," Ferman said.
The bike trail has seen increasing trouble recently.
On June 3, a woman riding the trail was punched in the face and more recently, Ferman herself encountered kids who were acting in what she characterized as a "very territorial way."
Police have stepped up patrols on the trail, Ferman said.
"People using the trail, whether they're walking or running or bike riding shouldn't have to be worried about thugs who are just trying to mark their territory," she said.