A convicted felon is back in jail after possessing a semi-automatic handgun and multiple bags of heroin, according to Patton Township police.
Police were monitoring Bernel Road Park after park hours when they observed Aaron Bitner, 33, get out of a pewter GMC pickup truck in the park’s parking lot, police said. Bitner was carrying a light-colored bag, but police lost sight of the bag when he went around the backside of the truck.
Police approached Bitner and asked what he was doing in the park. He said he was writing some letters to his girlfriend, but police said Bitner appeared nervous and his hands were shaking.
When another officer arrived to assist, she spotted a white backpack underneath the rear axle of the truck. When first questioned about the backpack, Bitner said he didn’t know anything about it. Police then asked him to get out of the truck to see what they were talking about.
Bitner reached under the truck to grab the backpack and said it was his before running away from police with the backpack. Officers ordered Bitner to get on the ground, which he did after running a short distance, according to police.
A search of the backpack revealed a semi-automatic pistol with eight rounds of ammunition in the magazine, a glass marijuana pipe, a bag with some marijuana in it and another bag with buprenorphine pills in it, police said.
Police knew Bitner to be a previously convicted felon. Court documents show Bitner pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver charges in 2007.
Bitner told police he ran away because he knew there was a handgun in the backpack and didn’t want to go to prison again, according to police.
He said the backpack belonged to another person that was in his vehicle previously. He said he was unaware that drugs were in the backpack.
Bitner consented to a vehicle search, which found 15 bags of heroin, one bag of cocaine, several syringes throughout the truck and 39 syringes in a blue bag underneath the front passenger seat.
Police also found a black gym bag that contained $1,760 and a gray bag that contained a scale, 166 plastic bags and a bottle of ClearLAX, which was used as a cutting agent, according to police.
Bitner told officers he was shooting cocaine by injecting it with a syringe and admitted to selling cocaine.
He is charged with felony counts of prohibited possession of a firearm and manufacturing, delivering or possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture or deliver. He also faces misdemeanor counts of intentionally possessing a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and use of drug paraphernalia.
Bitner was arraigned before District Judge Casey McClain, who set monetary bail at $10,000. He did not post bail and is being held at the Centre County Correctional Facility.
His preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 7.