The South Philadelphia man charged in the road-rage shooting of a motorist on the Schuylkill Expressway in October will remain hospitalized pending further mental evaluation ahead of a Feb. 11 pretrial hearing on attempted-murder charges, a judge ruled yesterday.
Municipal Court Judge Marsha Neifield granted the request from David Ayers of the district attorney's mental health unit to extend Christian Squillaciotti's civil commitment at Norristown State Hospital by 60 days.
Squillaciotti, 33, was ruled competent to stand trial but requires medication to remain stable, Ayers said without elaborating.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Lipscomb, who is prosecuting the case, added, "He's mentally ill, but he's competent. He needs treatment."
Squillaciotti, a 275-pound former Marine and mixed-martial-arts competitor, was charged after police said he shot a New Jersey man who cut him off near the Walt Whitman Bridge toll plaza on Oct. 5.
Thomas Timko, 41, of Glendora, Gloucester County, was shot in the head while driving his 8-year-old daughter, Katie, to her mother's house in Norristown.
Police believe that after driving through the toll plaza about 8:40 p.m., Timko cut off Squillaciotti's pickup. The drivers exchanged words, and Timko opened the moonroof of his 2001 Toyota Highlander and gestured at the other driver, police said.
That driver followed Timko and fired four shots into his car before veering off the expressway at the Passyunk Avenue exit. Timko, critically injured, maneuvered his car to the shoulder of the highway and his daughter flagged down help.
Tipsters recognized Squillaciotti's gray Ford F-150 from surveillance photographs at the toll booths. They directed police to his home in the 400 block of Shunk Street, where he was arrested. In addition to attempted murder, he is charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering others, and related offenses.
Squillaciotti, a sheet-metal worker on disability leave because of an automobile accident last year, reportedly expressed remorse to police and identified the storm sewer where detectives found part of the dismantled .40-caliber handgun they said was used in the shooting.
Police say Squillaciotti has a permit to carry a firearm and can legally own guns. Nevertheless, they confiscated three handguns, two shotguns and two rifles from his house. Police want to know whether all the guns were purchased legally.
Timko, critically wounded in a side of the forehead, was admitted to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. His recovery and rehabilitation took about two months; he was discharged two weeks ago and is staying with his sister in Pennsylvania.