Trespassing Dispute Leads to Shootout

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RICE TOWNSHIP — A 19-year-old from Wilkes-Barre Township has been charged with attempted homicide after a shooting Wednesday night near Mountain Top.

Troopers said Nicholas Drust is in custody after the shooting on Heslop Road in Rice Township around 8:30 p.m.

According to court documents, Nicholas Drust and his father Robert were questioned by two neighbors, who accused the men of trespassing on private property along the dead-end road.

A neighbor told Newswatch 16 that loitering, trespassing and dumping are common problems on the rural road.

“The problem is, people come down here and park and drink beer and throw trash. It`s a shame that they do that,” said Ross Horsley.

Rice Township Police Chief Robert Franks said Robert Drust punched 75-year-old Larry Papach in the face, which lead to a violent shootout.

“Before the police even got there, that’s when the fight started,” said Franks. “There was an argument, there was a pushing, shoving, fist-fight type thing, and then there was the shooting.”

Detectives said Nicholas Drust fired 14 rounds from a semi-automatic handgun at Papach in the shoulder and hand.

The criminal complaint said Papach was able to return fire, shooting six rounds from a pistol.

The bullets from Papach’s gun hit Robert Drust in the thigh, as well as the alleged trespasser’s sedan.

Franks said both men are expected to recover from their injuries, and that Papach fired in self-defense of the trespassers.

“He’s been a good neighbor to everybody there. It was a neighbor trying to help neighbor, looking out for each other,” said Franks.

Nicholas Drust was not hit during the shootout, and is locked up on $100,000 bail.

Investigators said they’re determining whether criminal charges should be filed against Robert Drust.

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