Lehigh Valley

Bethlehem man says it was firecrackers, police say it was gunshots

Authorities allege 25-year-old fired at a house

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Authorities allege a Bethlehem man shot at a Center Street house Saturday night while standing outside a nearby church.

Authorities charged John T. Stofko Jr., of the 1500 block of Shipman Street, with reckless endangerment and a firearms offense in connection to the incident Saturday near the Life in Christ Church. District Judge Douglas Schlegel arraigned the 25-year-old Sunday morning, setting bail at $50,000.

Bethlehem police responded to the area of 51 Hillmond St. shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday to investigate a report of shots fired. A person inside the Life in Christ Church told police that he heard four or five gunshots outside the church and saw a man later identified as Stofko walking away from the area talking about loud firecrackers, according to court records.

Stofko lives next door to the church.

An officer found three .40 caliber Federal ammunition shell casings on the sidewalk outside the church. The officer then walked north on Seifert Street, coming to an open garage for Stofko’s Shipman Street home.

The officer asked Stofko, who was sitting inside a car in the garage, whether he had heard any gunshots. Stofko replied that he heard what he thought were firecrackers or M80s.

When Stofko provided police with identification, the officer spotted an extended gun magazine sticking out of his pants pocket and found a pistol holster in his sweatshirt pocket, according to records.

Another officer allegedly found a .40 caliber Glock handgun in Stofko’s pants pocket. Police said they also found three other Glock magazines loaded with Federal ammunition.

Officers later found three bullet holes in a home in the 1400 block of Center Street, which is across a street and a parking lot from the church.

Police charged Stofko with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and carrying a firearm without a license. The judge allowed for a 10 percent cash option on bail, if approved by pre-trial services. Stofko failed to post bail and was sent to Northampton County Prison to await a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 14.

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