The Slatington man, accused of shooting a cigar shop clerk after refusing to wear a face mask and shooting police the next day, is on trial on both counts.
On the morning of the alleged shooting, 35-year-old Adam M. Zaborowski was preparing to drive into the forest as part of a plan he had made before the violent outbreak, according to his defense lawyer.
"It was his intention … just to go into the woods and live there and dodge people and try to just go through it alone, with food and camping gear and so on, until maybe the pandemic is over," said attorney John Waldron on Thursday “Because he obviously didn't like wearing masks and because it was necessary, he had the feeling that he didn't have to wear a mask if he could go into the forest, live there and not be among people. ”
Zaborowski was on Thursday in Lehigh County before a preliminary hearing on 22 counts in the August 1 shooting with Slatington police. District Judge Tom Clair Creighton has bound all trial charges in Lehigh County Court, including seven charges of attempted murder. Seven charges were changed from one serious attack to one attack by a law enforcement officer.
Zaborowski had his preliminary hearing in Northampton County on October 1 on nine charges filed after the original July 31 incident at Cigars International in Bethlehem Township. District Judge Patricia Broscius has brought all of the charges brought against Zaborowski by the community police to Northampton County Court.
A preliminary hearing will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring charges against a court in a joint court.
The Lehigh County District Attorney's Office has turned down an offer from the Northampton District Attorney's Office to consolidate both cases in Northampton County.
"We will be very prosecuted for the Northampton County component," said Alec Colquhoun, Northampton County's assistant district attorney, Thursday. "So at this point he has to face two districts of justice."
The Lehigh County Prosecutor's office declined to comment on Thursday's trials to confirm that both the Lehigh and Northampton cases will be tried separately.
Bethlehem Township Police identified Zaborowski as a suspect within hours of the Cigars International incident at 11:30 a.m., but were not immediately detained. According to police, the clerk at the cigar shop followed Zaborowski outside after Zaborowski refused to wear a face mask while shopping, in violation of efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. On the way out, Zaborowski reportedly picked up two $ 9 cigars, then pulled a semi-automatic pistol from his shorts and fired one shot in the air and two shots at the clerk before escaping. The employee suffered a minor injury.
Lehigh County authorities then received a lead from witnesses who saw Zaborowski make several trips from the Slatington home, where he lived on 801 Main St., to his 2008 blue Dodge Dakota. According to the police, he was carrying "a rifle and several containers that appeared to be military ammunition cans."
Survival gear including groceries and camping gear were also found in the truck, according to a testimony at Thursday's hearing, Waldron said.
Slatington Police and Pennsylvania State Police who responded to the tip reportedly spotted Zaborowski driving away in the pickup truck.
When police tried to stop the pickup on Second Street and East Washington Street at around 9:35 a.m., Zaborowski immediately got out and began shooting a marked Slatington police car that was manned by officers and tagged state police vehicles with six soldiers.
"Zaborowski fired an AK-47 rifle with a high-capacity drum magazine and fired several shots to hit the officers who responded," the police wrote in court files.
A Slatington officer whose patrol car was hit returned fire through the windshield before getting out and walking to his left, police said. One of the soldiers also got out of a patrol car and walked back, while a second soldier got behind the passenger door and both returned fire, according to the records.
"I'm done," said Zaborowski after falling to the ground near the pickup truck, dropping his rifle and putting his hands in the air, the police said.
A Slatington police officer suffered a minor wound and no soldiers were injured, state police said.
According to Waldron, Zaborowski was shot in the buttocks and twice in the leg area. The suspect was then taken by ambulance to a medical helicopter and flown for treatment.
Zaborowski was also armed with a semi-automatic pistol in the Slatington incident and, according to court records, is not allowed to own a firearm due to an earlier conviction for aggravated assault.
Waldron previously said that while Zaborowski did not make any excuses for the violence, he was under pressure from custody issues and had lost his job. The defense attorney has requested that a forensic psychological examination be carried out before the cases reach the district court, where Zaborowski will be brought to trial, unless an appeal is made or the cases are otherwise resolved.
Zaborowski is being held in lieu of a $ 2 million combined bail.
The next scheduled steps in the cases are a formal trial on December 2nd in Lehigh County Court in Allentown and a formal trial and pre-trial conference on December 17th in Northampton County Court in Easton.
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Kurt Bresswein can be reached at [email protected]