A 16-year-old Bethlehem boy is in county jail and being charged as an adult for allegedly firing a gun and trying to rob another teenager on the Lehigh Canal towpath in Bethlehem Township on Sunday afternoon, according to court records.
Samuel Junior Rodriguez of 1313 Marvine St. told township police he never really intended to rob the boy he confronted and that the gun he disposed of was a water pistol and not a real weapon. The weapon allegedly used in the incident was not found, the arrest affidavit says.
According to the arrest warrant:
- Police were first called to the scene at 3:48 p.m. on a report of shots fired on the towpath. Initially, it was thought the shots were fired in Freemansburg. initially responded as backup for borough police. State police also responded.
- Three adults swimming in the Lehigh River near the scene called 911 after hearing a “loud crack” and seeing water “splash up.” One of the adults said he saw a Hispanic teenage boy with bruises beneath his eyes and wearing a black T-shirt loading a silver handgun with a clip from the river before the gunshot was heard.
- The victim, a 15-year-old boy, told police that he was returning from the river to use a rope swing when he was confronted by Rodriguez, who asked about a purple bicycle sitting there. “I told him it was mine and he told me it was his. I told him ‘no, it wasn’t.’”
- The victim said that Rodriguez then pulled out a gun and the victim stepped out of the water. Rodriguez told the victim that he didn’t tell him to step out of the water. According to the victim, Rodriguez then stepped behind a tree and “acted like he was loading the gun,” then came out and pointed it at him.
- “After that, he told me he was just messing with me and wasn’t actually going to take my bike,” the victim told police.
- The victim and his two friends, both 14 years old, identified Rodriguez as the assailant.
- Rodriguez told police that he threw the gun, which he said was a water pistol, into the river. He said he was “just messing with the white boys and they knew that,” he told police.
Bethlehem Township police were instructed by Northampton County Assistant District Attorney Terry Hauck to charge Rodriguez as an adult, the warrant says.
The teen was charged with robbery and aggravated assaul -- both felonies -- as well as terroristic threats, carrying a prohibitive offensive weapon, reckless endangerment and simple assault.
He was arraigned before night duty and committed to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $75,000 bail.