DA: No Charges in Upper Frederick Shooting

Actions found to be in self defense

The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office released the following information: The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and the Pennsylvania State Police have completed a review of the Saturday, December 17, 2011 shooting incident involving Angel Gonzalez, Joshua Levin and Zachary Levin. We find the use of deadly force by Gonzalez was justified and proper under the attendant circumstances.   ​ Based upon a thorough review of all the available evidence, District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman concludes that Angel Gonzalez acted reasonably and with proper justification in his use of deadly force on Saturday, December 17, 2011. ​​ On Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 8:16 PM, the Pennsylvania State Police, Skippack Station, responded to 1705 Snyder Road, Upper Frederick Township, Montgomery County, for a report of a shooting.   Upon arrival troopers found the lifeless body of nineteen-year-old Zachary Tyler Levin, lying in the driveway of the residence. Zachary had been shot one time in the side of the chest and was pronounced dead at the scene. Zachary’s step-father, Joshua Levin, was also shot but his injuries were not life threatening.   The initial investigation conducted by troopers determined that four people were present outside at the time of the shootings. They were Angel Gonzalez, age 42, Roxann Levin, age 45, Joshua Levin, age 34 and Zachary Levin, age 19. A black 1989 Mustang was parked in the driveway with the engine running and headlights on. This Mustang was registered to Joshua Levin.   At the time of the shooting Roxann was estranged from her husband, Joshua. She and Gonzalez were residing together at 1705 Snyder Road. Joshua and Zachary were residing at 233 Congo Niantic Road, Douglass Township, Montgomery County.   Evidence observed by troopers on the ground to the side and rear of the home included a black aluminum baseball bat and a smaller wooden replica baseball bat. These items were found in close proximity to a white Ford F-150 owned by Gonzalez.   Joshua reported Gonzalez had shot him and Zachary. Roxann reported the same thing. Gonzalez admitted to shooting the pair and he was taken into custody by state troopers. Troopers secured the home and property at 1705 Snyder Road and an investigation into the circumstances which led to the shooting was initiated by the Pennsylvania State Police and the Montgomery County Detective Bureau.   Joshua was transported to the Lehigh Valley Hospital where he was treated and released.  Investigators believe he was shot one time.   On Sunday, December 18, 2011 Dr. Gregory McDonald, a forensic pathologist, performed an autopsy on the body of Zachary LEVIN. He determined the cause of Zachary LEVIN’s death was a single gunshot wound to his side. The round pierced his heart and lungs. The manner of death was homicide.   Toxicology tests were performed on blood recovered from inside Zachary’s body. This test confirmed the presence of marijuana in Zachary’s system at the time he died.     On Sunday, December 18, 2011 Magesterial District Judge Deborah Lukens issued a search warrant for the property at 1705 Snyder Road. State Police crime scene investigators conducted the search of the property and recovered many items of physical evidence. ​ On Sunday, December 18, 2011 at 10:20 AM members of the Pennsylvania State Police served a search warrant on the scene at 1705 Snyder Road. Most pertinent among the items seized were the following:   A) ​Full size black aluminum “Worth” baseball bat – found outside 1705 Snyder Road near Gonzalez’s Ford F-150 pickup. B)​Wooden replica “Babe Ruth” baseball bat – found outside 1705 Snyder Road near Gonzalez’s Ford F-150 pickup. C)​A total of two spent .40 caliber shell casings – found outside 1705 Snyder Road near Gonzalez’s Ford F-150 pickup. ) A Sturm Ruger .40 caliber handgun – found in Gonzalez’s second floor bedroom.   The investigation has revealed Zachary was armed with the Babe Ruth bat at the time he was shot. The Worth bat was the bat possessed by Joshua and taken by Gonzalez after Joshua was shot. The spent casings support Gonzalez’s assertion that he fired a single round at the armed Levin’s. The Sturm Ruger handgun was legally purchased and is legally owned by Gonzalez.   ​In Pennsylvania, the use of force in self-protection is governed by Section 505 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. This statute states the use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purposes of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion. 18 Pa.C.S.A.§505(a). The use of deadly force is justifiable if the actor believes that such force is necessary to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat. 18 Pa.C.S.A. §505(b)(2).     “Deadly Force” is defined as “[f]orce which, under the circumstances in which it is used, is readily capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.” 18 Pa.C.S.A. §501. However, deadly force is not justified if the actor, with the intent of causing death or serious bodily injury, provoked the use of force against himself in the same encounter. 18 Pa.C.S.A. §505(b)(2)(i).  Nor, is deadly force justified if the actor knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by retreating. 18 Pa.C.S.A. §505(b)(2)(ii). ​This incident began on Saturday night, December 17, 2011 with text communications between Roxann Levin and her estranged husband, Joshua Levin. At the time the text messages were communicated Roxann was at 1705 Snyder Road with her current live-in boyfriend, Angel Gonzalez. Joshua was at 233 Congo Niantic Road with his adopted son, Zachary Levin. Zachary is also the son of Roxann. ​Through written messages Roxann told Joshua she need to be picked up at the Snyder Road address after she was thrown out by Gonzalez. An intoxicated Joshua was driven to Snyder Road by Zachary. Prior to departing Congo Niantic Road Joshua armed himself with an aluminum baseball bat. Investigators are aware of no communication to Joshua, which would dictate the need to arm himself before responding to Roxann’s request for transportation. ​Upon arrival at Snyder Road investigators believe Zachery and Joshua exited the vehicle each armed with a bat. They then pursued a retreating Gonzalez from their Mustang, which was parked in front of the home, to his F-150, which was parked in the rear of the home. This fact remains undisputed. Troopers investigating the crime scene measured the distance between the front passenger doors of the Mustang and the F-150. That distance was 72.35 feet. ​Gonzalez was able to reach his vehicle and retrieve his legally owned and stored Ruger .40 caliber pistol. He displayed the pistol to Zachary and Joshua. He voiced his desire for them to leave. They were undeterred. Verbal exchanges between the three men took place as the physical confrontation, which was initiated by Zachary and Joshua, continued in the back yard. The area where these exchanges took place was immediately around Gonzalez’s Ford pickup truck. Gonzalez feared for his life as the pair threatened him with death. The pair continued the aggressive behavior. Joshua admittedly struck Gonzalez’s vehicle with his bat. At one point Gonzalez struck Joshua with the handgun in an effort to fend him off. The confrontation continued. Gonzalez’s final decision to shoot came after he was struck in the head with a bat by Zachary. He fired one round at Zachary. It was after he shot Zachary that Joshua came at him and he fired one round at Joshua.   ​Gonzalez was justified in using non-deadly and deadly force in this situation. The actions he took before making the decision to shoot Zachary and Joshua Levin are evidence he made a concentrated effort to avoid using deadly force.   Gonzalez also fired a single round at Joshua. When hit by this round, Joshua went to the ground but was still conscious. Rather than fire additional rounds at Joshua, Gonzalez took this opportunity to disarm Joshua of his baseball bat.  Once he had Joshua’s bat, he moved away from Joshua and phoned 911 for help.   Gonzalez remained armed with the hand gun for a significant amount of time after the shooting. This was part of his continued effort to maintain his personal safety. He also took additional steps to avoid further violence by distancing, and then separating himself, from the others still present at 1705 Snyder Road after the shootings.   Gonzalez continued to display reasonable behavior by cooperating fully with the emergency dispatchers as they coordinated the response of police and paramedics. He also cooperated with the police.   Based upon a thorough review of all the available evidence, we conclude that Angel Gonzalez acted reasonably and with proper justification in his use of deadly force on Saturday, December 17, 2011.  This District Attorney’s Office will take no further action in this matter.    


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »