Penn Township police recall moment gunshot tore through wall
Two Penn Township officers Friday recounted how close they came to being shot last month when responding to a domestic call at a Thomas Lane home.
A gunshot blasted through a wall on Aug. 31 after officers knocked loudly on a front door and ordered a man — who allegedly assaulted four women inside — to come out, Patrolman Robert Broome testified during a preliminary hearing for Jody J. Martz, 52.
“At that time, I wasn’t sure if Officer (David) Noll was struck or not. That’s how close it was,” Broome testified before District Judge Helen Kistler.
Noll told the judge that the muzzle blast crossed his chest and arm while he stood near the door.
“When I looked down, the pocket of my uniform was perforated,” he testified. “The chain for my traffic whistle was severed.”
Noll was wearing a protective vest and wasn’t injured. He has returned to work.
Kistler ordered Martz to stand trial on attempted homicide and related charges over defense attorney Jerome Tierney’s argument that his client didn’t intend to kill the officers.
“It’s not just an intention to kill. It can also be reckless or negligent conduct,” Kistler said.
Wendy Martz sat in the back of the courtroom and listened to testimony against her husband while several friends and family members waited in the hallway.
Jody Martz sat with his head bowed during parts of the testimony. He remains jailed on $500,000 bond.
Christine Kosmann testified that she and several other women were at the Martz residence for a Home Interior party that started at 6:15 p.m. Shortly after, she said, things turned violent as Martz began shouting from the basement before coming upstairs and pushing four women.
Martz appeared to be intoxicated, Kosmann said.
“He came up the stairs in a rage,” she recalled. “He took my arm, and he wrapped it around my neck.”
All of the women retreated outside and called for police. None was injured.
Three officers arrived at 7:03 p.m. and knocked on the door, but Martz didn’t respond, officers testified.
A shot was fired at 7:09 p.m., and Martz surrendered about 20 minutes later, Broome testified.
Detective Brad Buchsbaum testified that a .270-caliber rifle was found inside the house. During an interview at the police station, Martz told investigators that he knew the officers were outside and he “fired in an area where he believed the officer was not standing to scare him away,” Buchsbaum testified.
The bullet fired has not been recovered, Buchsbaum said.
Tierney repeatedly attempted to convince Kistler that his client’s actions would meet the definition of reckless endangerment, but not attempted homicide.
“There’s no evidence to indicate that there was some kind of vendetta the defendant had against the police,” Tierney argued. “There’s no evidence to indicate that he was attempting to hurt anybody.”
In addition to the attempted homicide charge, Kistler held Martz for trial on other counts, including aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, simple assault and assault of a law enforcement officer.
“You and I just simply differ in our opinion,” Kistler told Tierney.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374 or [email protected].