Man guilty on 17 counts from police showdown in Ferguson Township

A jury found a Centre County man guilty Tuesday of multiple felony counts in connection with a September domestic incident that ended with him facing off against police with a loaded gun.

James Robert Scholl, 32, was convicted on 17 counts, including three counts of first-degree felony aggravated assault; three counts of aggravated assault; attempt by physical menace to put any officer in danger, a second-degree felony; and a variety of misdemeanors and summary offenses.

According to the Centre County District Attorney’s Office, the charges stem from an incident in which Scholl was angry with his girlfriend for not helping him pick up his overturned motorcycle in front of her Ferguson Township trailer. He was accused of slapping her with an open hand, then picking up a shoe and hitting her with it repeatedly.

The girlfriend called police while Scholl continued to be violent, to the point of knocking holes in the wall with pieces of a door he broke off the hinges. She told police he blocked her from leaving the home, but she was able to get around him. Scholl threw her purse on the porch and locked the door behind her.

When police arrived on the scene, the District Attorney’s Office said, Scholl began playing loud music as the officers approached. He then came to the door with a loaded handgun and pointed it at the head of Ferguson Township Officer William Chambers. Chambers and two other officers fought for control of the weapon, which was pointed at all of them during the struggle, before they disarmed and subdued Scholl.

“This was an extremely perilous situation for everyone involved. The defendant forced these officers to make life-and-death decisions in an instant and they responded with the utmost courage, restraint and professionalism,” District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said. “They saved the lives he endangered. We shall seek a sentence that reflects the magnitude of his actions.”

According to public defender Deborah Lux, Scholl’s side of the story is very different.

“Mr. Scholl testified on his own behalf. His girlfriend also testified,” Lux said. “His testimony was that he believed he heard a commotion outside the trailer, so he took his girlfriend’s legally owned firearm and went out, only to find police.”

Sentencing is scheduled for May 8.

Lux says after sentencing, she and her client will discuss the possibility of appeal in the case. That decision must be made within 10 days of the sentencing.

Scholl is still awaiting trial on a charge of former convict not to possess a firearm in connection with the incident.