Notes left during Christy’s run from officials
During the three-month manhunt for Shawn Christy in Summer 2018, there were multiple instances where dozens of state, local and federal law enforcement officers descended on a location where he was believed to be hiding.
Jurors in Christy’s federal trial on Thursday heard details about two of those searches, including one in Mansfield Ohio, on Sept. 21, 2018, when Christy surrendered to police.
Christy is on trial for a long list of federal offenses including threats against the president, interstate transportation of a stolen firearm, and being a fugitive with a firearm. He is representing himself in the case.
‘Armed and dangerous’
Christy allegedly possessed multiple handguns during his odyssey, and had allegedly threatened to use “full lethal force” against any officer who attempted to arrest him. He also allegedly made a threat to kill President Donald Trump.
“The marshals said he was armed and dangerous. They implored us to get him off the street,” said Sgt. Christopher Hill of the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office in Western Maryland.
On Aug. 19, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a trespasser at Winters Towing, a business located along the Potomac River.
Ronald Winters, the owner, testified that around 6:30 that night he chased a man off his property, and found a camouflage backpack. The backpack contained a loaded handgun identical to one stolen from Christy’s uncle’s home, and loan documents in the name of Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer. Authorities believe that Christy had broken into Meyer’s family’s home in Kentucky on Aug. 9, 10 days prior.
An Allegheny County Sheriff’s deputy testified that when he called authorities in Kentucky about the loan documents, he learned that Christy was likely the trespasser that Winters saw.
Hill led an effort to set up a perimeter, with more than 100 officers assembled. Train lines in the area were shut down, and helicopters and dogs were deployed.
Hill said that the next morning, he learned that a vehicle was reported stolen from business located almost next door to Winters Towing. Knowing that Christy had probably fled the area, they called off the search.
That morning, Hill learned of a break-in at a church near Cumberland. Church members found someone broke into the church and left two notes, both dated Aug. 18, 2018 and signed “SRC.” Christy’s middle name is Richard.
In the first note, to the pastor and church, the writer apologized for stealing $55 and some chocolate candy. In a second note, addressed to the marshals, the writer gave directions so they could find a handgun which Christy allegedly dropped near Meyer’s home in Kentucky.
“I have been forced into a war which I did not want to fight, which has caused me to do many things which I very deeply regret,” the note to the church read.
It’s believed that Christy returned to the McAdoo area after leaving Cumberland and broke into several businesses located along Route 309, including Skitco Iron Works and Skipper Dippers.
On Sept. 21, a vehicle stolen from Skitco was found along a highway in Mansfield, Ohio. US Marshals and Ohio State Police coordinated another large-scale search with over 100 officers.
Scranton-based Deputy Marshal Robert Lenahan said Christy’s father had screenshot a Facebook message allegedly from Christy saying that he was still armed with a .380 handgun, matching one stolen from his uncle’s house in Drums when Christy allegedly broke in on July 25.
Ohio State Trooper Stephen Gillum testified that he spotted Christy hiding in a pile of logs located in a creek ravine. He ordered him not to move, and show his hands. He complied.
“The only thing I remember him saying is ‘I surrender,’ ” Gillum said.
Lenahan said he grabbed Christy’s hands so he couldn’t reach for anything. Gillum said he asked Christy about the handgun, and he said it was located in his pocket. Gillum took the handgun and a knife which he could see in the waistband.
On cross-examination, Christy asked both Gillum and Lenahan if they knew the location of his backpack, shoes, boots, and wallet — containing his online passwords. All were taken from him during his arrest, but have been unavailable to him as he prepared for trial.
Outside the courthouse, Christy’s family friend Jessica Eckert echoed those sentiments.
“Remarkably everything else shows up, but his wallet disappears, and his passwords,” Eckert said.
Eckert said she doesn’t believe the prosecution has done a good job proving that Christy was actually the person who posted threats on his Facebook account, which prompted the marshals to search for him.
She said his passwords have been stolen before. “People who could have posted would know personal information about him, and they supplied no IP addresses to say it came from his phone, or his computer,” Eckert said.
Christy officially became a fugitive in late May of 2018. Federal agents became much more serious about locating him after Christy allegedly posted on Facebook on June 12 that he would put a bullet in the head of President Donald Trump and Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli.
Marshals and FBI agents have testified that they took those threats seriously. During two Trump rallies which took place during the search — one in Wilkes-Barre and one near Cumberland, Maryland, they were on the lookout for Christy.
On Thursday the jurors heard testimony that the Northampton County Sheriff took the threat against Morganelli to be just as serious.
Justin Washousky said that his department added a 24-hour detail at Morganelli’s home until Christy was captured.
Testimony Thursday provided evidence that Christy may have planned to flee the country.
FBI agent Eddie Garcia testified that he went to Redco Group near Hazleton in mid September, following a break-in there on Sept. 8-9. Several days after the break-in, someone at Redco had discovered a sticky note on a common room computer which said “Thanks for the food, SRC.”
Garcia immediately brought up the internet browser history on the computer. On Sept. 8-9, he found someone had searched for “Shawn Christy,” “McAdoo weather,” and “Peace Arch Park no border security.”
Peace Arch Park is located on the border of Washington state and Canada.
The history also showed a Mapquest search for directions from Hazleton to a town near Peace Arch Park.
The user had also listened to several songs on YouTube. One of the songs was “One Last Ride” by Molly Hatchet.
Prosecutors plan to wrap up their case Friday morning. Christy said he will present witnesses Friday afternoon and closing statements are expected to take place on Monday.