Witness recounts events leading up to shooting death of Philipsburg man

A Hawk Run man will stand trial for criminal homicide in relation to the shooting death of a Philipsburg man.

Dustin Tyler Thomas, 27, is also charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person after the incident on Oct. 30 in Morris Township, Clearfield County.

After a preliminary hearing during centralized court Wednesday, District Judge Jerry Nevling ruled all charges be sent onto the Court of Common Pleas for further disposition. Thomas remains incarcerated with no chance of being released on bail.

Only one witness, Valerie Bamat, testified during the hearing. She detailed how she and the victim, Brett Bamat, 36, who was her brother-in-law, returned to her home on Bass Lane around 5 p.m. that evening. Thomas reportedly was already there. The two men worked on replacing a window in her trailer as she worked inside, she said.

Trouble between the two men began after Valerie Bamat’s husband, Timothy Bamat, called from the Perry County Jail. (Timothy Bamat pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, fleeing police and endangering the welfare of a child in October and was sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison, according to court records).

Valerie Bamat testified that her husband wanted Thomas to leave, which allegedly upset Thomas. Thomas told Brett Bamat that he was more of a brother to Timothy Bamat than Brett Bamat was, she said.

During questioning by Thomas’s attorney, Stephanie Cooper, Valerie Bamat said that her husband did not want any other men at his home with her while he was in prison, with the exception of his brother.

Throughout the evening, Thomas, who reportedly had a gun at his side, and Brett Bamat argued at different times, leading to Thomas pulling out the gun twice, she said. The first time, he allegedly called it “his muscle” but kept it in his palm. The second time, he held it behind his back, Valerie Bamat said. When Brett Bamat asked why he had the gun out, Thomas allegedly pushed him and he pushed back, knocking over a TV stand, she said.

Valerie Bamat testified that she told them to go outside, which they did.

Thomas then pushed Brett Bamat again, she testified. She was backed up against the door and went into the residence where her dog was barking, she said. As she was trying to calm the dog down, she said she heard a gunshot. When she went back outside, Thomas was allegedly standing on the porch, motionless, with the gun in his holster. Brett Bamat was lying on the ground in a fetal position, Valerie Bamat said.

Thomas walked to his vehicle and when she asked him if he was going to help her with Brett, he reportedly said nothing. She was walking over to her brother-in-law when she heard another gun shot from the vehicle, she said.

After this, she told Thomas to give her the gun because “it needs to be in safe hands.” Instead, he put it back in his holster and allegedly said he wanted to kill himself.

“I told him that would not help the situation,” she testified. He said he was going home and left in his vehicle.

When she returned to her brother-in-law, “he was not good” and had been shot in the chest. Valerie Bamat started crying during her testimony as she remembered the moment. She stated that at that point she thought he was already gone, but she did chest compressions while she waited for an ambulance.

When District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. asked if either man seemed drunk, she said no but noted they had been drinking.

According to the affidavit, Thomas was apprehended a short time after the shooting at his home in Hawk Run.