DA: No charges for wife in gunfire in Indiana County
Jessica Fairman saw her father lying on the kitchen floor of her Indiana County home, bleeding from a fatal gunshot wound in the neck.
As her estranged husband smashed a window to enter her home in North Mahoning early Sunday, police said, she grabbed a revolver from another room as her mother and two young children hid in the attic.
“She heard (Shaun C. Fairman) breaking the glass and coming through the window,” Lt. Bernard Petrovsky of the state police barracks at Punxsutawney said on Monday. “She could hear him walking with the heavy footsteps, and she could hear him coming up the steps.”
When Shaun Fairman, 32, of Washington Township stepped into a second-floor bedroom, Jessica Fairman pulled the trigger.
“She fired three shots, striking him twice” in the shoulder and bicep, Petrovsky said. “He fell to the ground, and she stood over top of him, holding him at bay with her .22 revolver.”
Investigators said they will not charge Jessica Fairman, pointing to the state’s Castle Doctrine, which permits the use of lethal force in a home or a public place for protection.
“She was clearly in her residence, a residence that he had been evicted from as a result of (a protection from abuse order),” District Attorney Pat Dougherty said. “Clearly she had retreated basically as far as she could go.
“If the Castle Doctrine is ever meant to apply, this is the classic example of it,” he said. “I believe she showed a tremendous amount of restraint.”
Shaun Fairman was arraigned on Sunday on charges of homicide, burglary and two counts of aggravated assault. He remains in jail without bail.
Dougherty hailed Jessica Fairman and her father, Richard Shotts, 55, as heroes. Their actions likely saved the lives of Jessica’s mother, Candice Shotts, and two of her children, ages 2 and 4, who all hid in the attic, Dougherty said. The Fairmans’ other two children, ages 7 and 6, were not at home.
“In many ways, I think Mr. Shotts is a hero,” Dougherty said. “He was there defending his daughter and grandchildren that night. I truly believe if that man wouldn’t have been there, we would have the possibility of having more victims on our hands.
“His daughter had the wherewithal to get her gun, and she disabled him,” Dougherty said.
Police said Shaun Fairman had two loaded guns when he arrived at the home. Richard Shotts attempted to calm him, but Fairman allegedly shot him through a kitchen window. Shotts died at the scene from the gunshot, according to Coroner Michael Baker.
Police said Shaun Fairman learned on Saturday that his wife had filed for divorce on May 30. Candice and Richard Shotts were staying at their daughter’s home because they feared Shaun Fairman’s reaction.
“They were there to spend the night with her,” Petrovsky said. “There was definitely some concern.”
On May 12, Jessica Fairman had filed a protection from abuse order, writing that her husband has threatened to kill her and himself. She said she believed Shaun Fairman has an alcohol problem.
“He threatened if I told my father anything, he would take care of him,” Jessica Fairman wrote. “He has guns hidden all over the house with ammo everywhere.”
A judge granted the PFA order on May 22 and outlined a custody agreement.