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Two burglars shot by homeowner face charges

Originally ran here as:
"Two men wounded in apparent break-in"
by Dan Gigler, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
October 17, 2001

ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA -- Two men were in critical condition last night after being shot by a homeowner who police said fired at them in an apparent act of self-defense.

Herbert Russell, 18, of Manton Way, Allentown, and Gary Wisner, 19, Carrick Avenue, Carrick, were in critical condition at Mercy Hospital after being shot during an apparent burglary. Russell was shot in the abdomen; Wisner sustained a chest wound.

Police say the two were shot trying to enter a home on Manton Way in Allentown.

Homicide Lt. Thomas Stangrecki said that the resident, Joshua Johnston, 21, would not be charged because the shooting was in self-defense. Johnston was upstairs when he heard the would-be burglars enter the home.

"Apparently both guys broke into the residence, [Johnston] came downstairs with a gun, both men came towards him and he thought he saw one of them reach for a gun," Stangrecki said. "He thought he was going to be harmed, and he shot."

Russell's sister Ruthie, 17, said her brother had threatened to break into the home where the shooting occurred because the man who lived there owed Herbert Russell money for work he did on a car.

South Side police Sgt. Dan Bonenberger said both Russell and Wisner wore ski masks.

"He didn't realize he knew them [the two victims] until he'd shot them," Bonenberger said.

Russell was lying in the doorway when police arrived. Bonenberger said he did not see weapons on the would-be burglars.

After the shooting, Wisner ran through a narrow passage between the houses, trailed blood up the street several yards and collapsed at a neighbor's door.

Bonenberger said that Johnston, held a warm shotgun and surrendered it to police, then was led away for questioning.

Stangrecki said that charges of burglary and criminal conspiracy will be filed against Russell and Wisner.

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