Road Rage Shooting in May Wounded Man as Children Sat in Car Nearby

LAST UPDATED 2:23 pm. on Wednesday, September 9

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman announced this morning that charges will not be filed against either man involved in the May 6 shooting incident in the parking lot of the Lititz Family Cupboard restaurant off Newport Road in the north end of Lititz.

The incident, a “road-rage, non-fatal shooting,” in which James Mellinger Sr. reportedly fired shots from a handgun he legally owned striking Darrel Smith Jr. in the face and jaw, stunned the quiet community. broke the news that it was Smith who was shot as his two children sat in the car nearby.

Today, the statement issued by the District Attorney indicates that Stedman’s office has not ruled the shooting justified, but determined criminal charges against neither James Mellinger Sr. or Darrel Smith Jr. could be upheld in court, beyond a reasonable doubt.

“When we view this case from the lens of what we can prove, it is clear that no charges can be sustained.”-DA Craig Stedman

The decision was based on the investigation conducted primarily by the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department (NLCRPD), which concluded that in the absence of eyewitnesses to the shooting, and in light of conflicting reports by the two men involved, there was not enough evidence to justify charges being filed.

The Lititz Family Cupboard restaurant was packed with patrons when the shooting occurred around 11 a.m. on a weekday morning. Although one man witnessed the cars pull into the lot according to the investigation, none of the patrons at the scene reported seeing Smith get shot when interviewed at the scene. No eyewitnesses emerged after the shooting either.

A report provided to detailing the findings of the investigation concludes: “Given all the above facts, and after conducting interviews of all parties and reviewing medical records, the Commonwealth believes it would not be able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that James Mellinger Sr. was guilty of any criminal act. We do not believe it can be established that he acted with specific intent or malice to cause Darrel Smith’s injuries. Furthermore, the Commonwealth would be unable to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mellinger acted criminally reckless under the circumstances.”

We will be adding to this story as additional information becomes available, so please check back.