Venango County

Shooting death of Peter Spencer justified as self-defense, Venango County DA announces

VENANGO COUNTY — Venango County District Attorney Shawn White announced on Tuesday that no charges will be filed in the shooting death of 29-year-old Peter Spencer.

In the woods of Venango County, Spencer was shot and killed on December 12 while at a friend’s camp.

“No one involved in this was hunting. I’ve seen the narrative out there that six white hunters lured someone from the big city to set him loose in the woods and ambushed him. It’s absolutely false,” said District Attorney Shawn White.

This case has gained a lot of attention after it took three months for the District Attorney to release any details.

Previous coverage: Faith leaders urge officials to further investigate death of Jamaican immigrant in Venango County

“I needed to know entry wounds. I needed to know exit wounds. I needed to know the number of shots, the trajectory,” White said.

White told Channel 11 that he didn’t get that autopsy report until February 25. In the last two weeks, he’s matched all the evidence and statements together to determine that the suspect who shot and killed Spencer was acting in self defense.

“There were threats made to shoot the place, that the suspect believed Spencer intended to kill them all. The suspect turned around with the AK-47 pointed at him by Spencer. The suspect drew his 9 mm pistol,” White said.

White said the suspect will be not be criminally charged per the state’s Stand Your Ground law.

“This is not a case of where he was shot once and disabled or that someone got up and executed him. This is not a case where a gun was put in his mouth and shot execution style,” White said.

As for the guns, the suspect had the right to carry, but Spencer brought two assault rifles to the camp that were not permitted to him.

“The state attorney general was already investigating these matters of the victim and his acquaintances in the Pittsburgh area,” White said.

The Attorney General’s Office could not confirm this active investigation, but White said the serial number for one of the assault rifles was removed and that weapon was traced to an investigation that involved Spencer before his weeklong trip to Venango County.

“In my humble opinion they are trying to develop whether there are ghost guns and gun trafficking going out into the general public,” White said.

While the homicide case is closed, the investigation continues into the guns and drugs.

White said all the witnesses were up front about drugs being used on the property that day. Toxicology shows Spencer did have drugs in his system and the witnesses said after the drug use was when he became reckless and started firing shots.

As for if this case was a hate crime or had racial bias, state police said there is no evidence of it.

“I can tell you right now there is no hate or bias dedicated,” said Corporal Aaron Allen with PSP Heritage Affairs.

In response to Tuesday’s announcement, the Spencer family attorney Paul Jubas said the family is still digesting the information and plans to have its own press conference next week.

Previous coverage: Family members, community looking for justice for murder of Venango County man

You can read the full statement from the family below:

“Today the Venango County District Attorney announced that no charges will be filed for the shooting death of Peter Spencer. While we disagree with the decision, we are not surprised by it. This is the type of behavior we have seen from the PA State Police and Venango County District Attorney from the outset.

Next week, this office, accompanied by Dr. Cyril Wecht, will hold a news conference to respond in full to today’s news conference by the Venango County District Attorney and PA State Police. We will address all aspects of the case at that time. We will announce the exact time and date of our news conference later this week.

Until that time, we ask everyone to please respect Peter’s family by giving them the space they deserve to continue the healing process during this incredibly difficult time.”


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