Marianna councilman accused of threatening to shoot neighbor

July 9, 2014
Jeremy A. Berardinelli

A Marianna councilman is in jail accused of threatening to kill his neighbor Tuesday night and firing six rifle shots near his property before driving drunk through the borough, state police said.

Jeremy A. Berardinelli, 34, was seen wielding a Ruger Mini-14 rifle while sitting on a picnic table behind his home at 702 Sixth St. about 8:30 p.m. before state police said he pointed it at his neighbor, James Woods, and shouted he was “going to kill him for saying he harms his children.” Investigators did not elaborate on what that statement meant.

Woods told police the men started arguing when Berardinelli cocked the rifle and told him he was going to shoot him. Berardinelli then walked down a hill near his garage and fired six shots, police said, although they did not say in what direction he was shooting. Woods hid behind a parked truck and then ran down the street because he “feared for his life,” police said.

Berardinelli left in his car and was pulled over by state police on Main and Magnolia streets a few minutes later. Police said Berardinelli was intoxicated with a blood-alcohol content of .11 percent, above the .08 percent legal limit to drive a vehicle. A passenger in the car, Matt Ringer, does not face any charges.

During questioning, Berardinelli admitted to firing “warning shots” into the air to scare his neighbor, police said. Investigators said they found five shell casings near Berardinelli’s garage.

Berardinelli won uncontested races for both mayor and council in 2013. He declined the mayoral seat and is currently a borough councilman, Washington County Elections Director Larry Spahr said. He launched a Facebook fan page shortly after his election to “keep my constituents informed and up to date on issues pertaining to the borough of Marianna!!”

It was not known how Berardinelli’s arrest would affect the borough’s five-person council. The next borough meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 16.

District Judge Joshua Kanalis arraigned Berardinelli late Tuesday on charges of aggravated assault, driving under the influence, terroristic threats, simple assault, reckless endangerment and driving with an expired license. He is being held at Washington County jail on $75,000 bond.

Berardinelli had several arrests prior to Tuesday night’s incident, including DUI convictions in 1999 and 2004. He also was accused of beating a woman with a wooden club in a Cokeburg residence in 2008 and pleaded guilty to public drunkenness in exchange for the other charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and harassment being dismissed.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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