Williamsport, Pa. — Self-defense claims allegedly fell short in the shooting death of man in a cable business last month, investigators said, leading to charges of criminal homicide.
Kenneth Richard Michaels, 65, of Montoursville, also failed to offer aid as he stood over his brother-in-law, John Roskowski, after shooting him in the abdomen while in the lobby of Cable Services Company on Marydale Drive in Williamsport on Aug. 16.
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Just one day before the fatal shooting, Roskowski, 69, of Williamsport, had been at the business to have his vehicle serviced at the company’s garage. Numerous employees said Roskowski, who was a former owner of the company, “would occasionally stop by to visit his son, visit other employees, and/or to have his vehicle serviced,” according to the affidavit.
Michaels, the company’s CEO, told his employees Roskowski was “not welcome on the property anymore.” So when Roskowski returned the next day, employees had to tell him he wasn’t allowed to be there, per Michaels’ orders. “This caused Roskowski to be angry with Michaels,” police said.
Roskowski parked his car outside the administrative offices and began using the buzzer system at the front door to be let inside.
Michaels admitted to police that, upon hearing the buzzer “sounding continuously,” and knowing from the receptionst that it was Roskowski at the door, he reached for the 9mm Sig Sauer from his desk—a gun he had brought to the office that morning—and went to the lobby, Officer Justin Segura of the Lycoming Regional Police Department said.
“Michaels confirmed that he was aware that he had a canister of Mace inside the same desk, but chose to grab the firearm instead,” Officer Jordan Mahosky said.
With the weapon concealed in his pants pocket, Michaels opened the locked front door to allow Roskowski in. “Within a brief period of time, and after words were exchanged,” police wrote, “Michaels removed the loaded handgun from his pocket and shot Roskowski once just below the sternum. A few moments before firing the fatal shot, Michaels directed a secretary to call 911.”
According to officials at the district attorney’s office, Michaels met police in the parking lot when they arrived five to 10 minutes after the shooting and told them Roskowski forced his way into the building, and that Roskowski had taken several steps toward him after being let in. He allegedly claimed self defense.
“He lied to police,” the source said. “The information he gave was misleading.”
Michaels claimed Roskowski lunged at him, despite witnesses saying otherwise, police said. Physical evidence at the scene did not match the version of events given by Michaels, according to the affidavit. Roskowki’s body was just inside the doorway, though Michaels claimed Roskowski had taken several steps towards him before lunging another few steps prior to the shooting.
Both Michaels and witnesses who were interviewed confirmed no threats were made toward Michaels. Roskowski was unarmed, according to police.
“Numerous employees interviewed by law enforcement volunteered the fact that the shooting was preventable and Roskowski had no means of access to the business but for Michaels granting him entry,” Mahosky said.
Audio recording taken from the 911 call revealed Roskowski calling Michaels a “coward” seconds before the shooting, investigators said.
The 69-year-old victim was allegedly in poor health, according to witnesses at the business. The results of an autopsy conducted on Aug. 18 showed Roskowski died as a result of the gunshot wound to the abdomen, which damaged the aorta and caused massive internal bleeding, according to the report.
“From the start, we knew we would file criminal charges for the shooting,” ADA Martin Wade said.
When authorities went to Michaels’ house to make the arrest, they were surprised to learn he had left the state, according to officials at the DA’s office.
Police in New Jersey made the arrest at Michaels’ vacation home in Cape May, NJ, Friday morning. He will remain in New Jersey until the extradition process is completed, police said, and he’ll be transported back to Lycoming County Prison pending his initial arraignment and preliminary hearing.
This is an ongoing investigation, according to sources at the DA’s office, and will be updated when more information becomes available.
Correction: Michaels’ age was corrected from 75 to 65