Franklin Furl bound over on charges of attempted homicide

Franklin Furl III is led to court Wednesday morning in Bellefonte for a preliminary hearing on the reported Snow Shoe police shootout.
Franklin Furl III is led to court Wednesday morning in Bellefonte for a preliminary hearing on the reported Snow Shoe police shootout.

Charges against a Snow Shoe Township man are headed to the county Court of Common Pleas after a preliminary hearing Wednesday morning at the Centre County Courthouse.

Franklin A. Furl III, 52, of Clarence, was taken into custody Dec. 2 after a reported standoff with state police troopers, and was charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. Additional charges were filed Dec. 8 when a second affidavit reported Furl had exchanged gunfire with a special police response team and did not leave his residence until police deployed tear gas.

Prior to the hearing, Furl’s attorney, Patrick Klena, requested a continuance, saying Furl has not been able to be in contact with his family, who wished to hire a private attorney for the matter. The request was denied by presiding District Judge Thomas Jordan.

District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller requested several amendments to the charges against Furl at the outset of the hearing, requesting additional counts of aggravated assault on the first set of charges and withdrawing the charges of reckless endangerment, replacing them with counts of terroristic threats. Additional charges of felony attempted criminal homicide and assault on law enforcement officers were also requested on the second set of charges.

State police troopers involved with the incident testified that it began a few days earlier when troopers were asked to perform a welfare check at Furl’s residence. Furl, who was not at home at the time, had reportedly called the barracks later, upset that the troopers had been by and commented that they were “lucky he wasn’t home when they stopped by” and it “would not have went well.”

Troopers returned to the residence after Furl’s wife had attempted to leave with pet cats, testimony showed, at which time Frul allegedly attempted to shoot at the cats. Troopers reportedly attempted to serve a mental health warrant on Furl, but were allegedly told the “only way he was going to come out of the house was in a body bag.”

Due to the reported presence of guns on the scene, a state police special emergency response team was called from Greensburg, police testimony said. An armored police vehicle was parked near the residence. Troopers repeatedly called for Furl to come out of the house and surrender himself.

It was during this time that SERT team members noted a rifle barrel poking out of windows and being pointed at team members and the vehicle, testimony showed. At one point, one team member reportedly fired a shot at the window when a rifle barrel was present, causing Furl to retreat into the house.

He then reappeared with a pistol when one of the team members claimed he was fired upon, one trooper testified. Troopers returned fire, during which time Furl reportedly fired “six to eight shots.”

In cross examination, the trooper admitted no evidence was gathered that showed a pistol believed to have been the one used in the shooting had actually been used. Klena also pointed out that fireworks were found in the residence, suggesting those may have been the “muzzle flashes” reported by troopers.

In his closing comments, Klena argued that at no time was Furl accused of shooting at the troopers in the vehicle, yet he was now being charged with their attempted homicide, and asked that the troopers who said they were fired on should be the ones to testify to that fact.

Parks Miller argued that Furl still showed the intent to fire at the troopers in the vehicle, saying the only reason he didn’t was because he was blinded by floodlights on the vehicle and instead changed his targets.

Jordan ruled that Furl be bound over on both the previous charges and amended charges. The case moves to the Court of Common Pleas and toward trial.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews