Authorities say a bail bondsman fatally shot a wanted man inside a Nanticoke home after showing up to take him into custody on a court-ordered arrest warrant, reported The Citizen's Voice.
City police identified the man as 26-year-old Thomas Worthy Painter.
Painter had been scheduled for a bail revocation hearing Friday in Luzerne County Court following a sixth arrest since April, most involving drug charges.
Police said the preliminary investigation revealed Painter pulled a gun on the bondsman, who responded by shooting Painter in the abdomen inside 83 Fairview Drive, which is located in a cul de sac neighborhood in the city’s Hanover section.
Painter was taken to Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre for treatment, but died of his injuries, Nanticoke police said.
Investigators said the bondsman, who was not identified, is cooperating and agreed to be interviewed by police.
Three other people were inside the home at the time gunfire broke out and were also interviewed, investigators said.
“Obviously, it’s very early on. We don’t know what the subject of those statements will be. That’s part of the investigation,” Luzerne County First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said.
Painter’s defense attorney, Larry Kansky, said the incident was a “tragedy” that didn’t need to happen.
“It’s sad a young person’s life had to end when most likely it would have been resolved,” Kansky said. “We were all set for the hearing tomorrow.”
Kansky said his client, who had drug problems, probably feared he was heading back to jail, but he thinks he would have been able to convince the court to keep him free with home confinement or electronic ankle monitoring.
Kansky said Painter lived with his grandmother at the Fairview Drive house and she put up her house as collateral for Painter’s bail with AA Bail Bonds in Wilkes-Barre.
“If he absconded, she would lose her house,” Kansky said.
Kansky said he learned Painter had called the bail bonds company asking that his grandmother no longer be held responsible for his bail, prompting the visit by the bondsman to take Painter into custody for Friday’s hearing.
“Did that mean he was going to run? Or refuse to go to the hearing? Or did he want suicide by bail bondsman? I don’t know. That’s something the district attorney’s office is going to have to investigate,” Kansky said.
A representative who answered the phone at AA Bail Bonds said the company did bail out Painter, but she had no further information.
Records show Painter has a lengthy criminal history and was out on bail on six open criminal cases in Luzerne County since April, including one from August in which he swam across the Susquehanna River following a hit-and-run crash in Plymouth only to be arrested by awaiting police when he reached the opposite shoreline in Hanover Twp.
County prosecutors had previously moved to revoke Painter’s bail, which authorities say prompted the efforts to take him into custody to ensure his appearance at Friday’s bail revocation hearing.
Sanguedolce said it is commonplace for bail bondsmen to be tasked with taking a defendant into custody when the person is subject to their company’s bail.
Thursday’s incident occurred around 2 p.m. inside 83 Fairview Drive.
Sanguedolce said the bondsman was “invited into the residence.”
“As he entered, he tried to take the individual into custody,” Sanguedolce said. “The individual pulled a weapon on the bondsman, who responded with gunfire and struck the individual.”
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