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Man charged in shooting death of friend

April 18, 2014 News Extra

MUDDY CREEK TWP — A 22-year-old township man is charged with homicide after he allegedly shot his friend Thursday night in a mobile home on Robbie Way.

State police charged Jeremey D. Sickenberger, who lived in the home, with one count of criminal homicide in the death of Thomas J. Stockman, 21, of Portersville.

Neighbors, who were witnesses at the scene, said Stockman was shot in the left side of his ribs with a .22 caliber rifle owned by Sickenberger’s father, Shawn Bennear, who also lived in the home.

Thomas Rafferty, a next-door neighbor, said he was outside about 8 p.m. when Bennear came out of his home and told him the children playing in the street should go inside.

“He told me an ambulance was coming because (Stockman) was shot,” Rafferty said.

Rafferty, who has a military background, said he went inside the home and found Stockman unconscious, lying on the floor of the living room.

“I tried to administer CPR until the EMTs arrived and took over,” he said. “But he wasn’t taking in any air. I think he was already gone by that time.”

Rafferty said he didn’t know Stockman, but had seen him around the neighborhood before.

Emergency units continued to treat Stockman as they drove him away from the scene, according to witnesses.

Rafferty said the street was filled with state police cars for several hours after that.

Neighbors, who spoke before charges were filed, said they heard the shooting was accidental and that it happened after the two men were playing around with the gun.

Debbie Miller, who lives across the street, said it was an accident that never should have happened.

“Why was there a bullet in that gun?” she asked. “It’s very sad that a 21-year-old had to lose his life like this.”

Sickenberger was placed in the Butler County Prison on Friday and is awaiting a preliminary arraignment.