Preliminary hearings were held Tuesday for two suspects charged in connection with a car theft and stabbing incident in Tamaqua on Jan. 26. Cory M. Whitley, 18, of Tamaqua, and Joshua R. Gaugler, 20, of Northampton, both elected to waive their rights before District Judge Steven Bayer, Tamaqua. Gaughler's bail was reduced from $50,000 straight cash bond, to $25,000 percentage bail. He was unable to post the required $2,500 and was returned to the Schuylkill County Prison, Pottsville. Whitley posted bail shortly after being arrested.
Tamaqua Cpl. Henry Woods is the arresting officer in the case.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, Whitley, Gaugler and an unnamed juvenile were walking in the area of the Tamaqua Wine and Spirits Store, Railroad Street, when they observed a silver 1997 Nissan idling in the lot. The two men jumped into the car and drove away, headed west through the lot. The Nissan then turned north on Railroad Street, driving the wrong way on the one way roadway. The vehicle was eventually recovered near Schuylkill Avenue.
As the duo drove away, Wine and Spirits Store manager James Medvetz, who had just cleared the car of freshly fallen snow, ran after them. After observing the direction they went, Medvetz attempted to find the vehicle while a co-worker, owner of the Nissan, talked to police.
Medvetz saw the three suspects walking in the area of Pine and West Union streets, exited his vehicle and confronted them. During a heated exchange of words, one of the trio struck Medvetz in the head with a set of brass knuckles. Medvetz also suffered a stab wound, from what he thought was a small knife, to his hand. Medvetz then attempted to return to his car and was rushed by Gaugler. Fearing for his life, Medvetz drew a properly licensed handgun. Gaugler grabbed Medvetz and was shot in the abdomen. Medvetz jumped in his car and returned to the Wine and Spirits Store where he was met by police. Gaugler, Whitley and several others were found on Rolling Mill Avenue within minutes. Gaugler and Medvetz were both transported to the hospital for treatment of their injuries.
Charges against Gaugler include felony auto theft by unlawful taking, criminal conspiracy, robbery, receiving stolen property, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, aggravated and simple assault, reckless endangerment, driving without a valid license and driving the wrong way on a one-way street.
Whitley has been charged with felony auto theft by unlawful taking, criminal conspiracy, robbery, receiving stolen property, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, aggravated and simple assault, reckless endangerment, illegal use of a prohibited weapon, criminal mischief and driving with a suspended/revoked license. The juvenile's charges are being referred to juvenile authorities.
Cpl. Woods described the incident as "a joyride that escalated into something out of control very quickly."
The men will now face criminal trials in the Schuylkill County Court.