Making a shooting gesture at a person with one's hand can be a crime, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday in upholding a Manor Township man's conviction.
Stephen T. Kirchner, 63, had been convicted of disorderly conduct — a summary offense — and fined $100.
The incident happened in June 2018.
Kirchner was walking with a woman in an alley between her house and the house of the man Kirchner gestured at.
The man and woman had a history of confrontation, according to court records; He had installed six security cameras and she had a no-contact order against him.
As she and Kirchner were walking, the man gave Kirchner the finger with both hands, Kirchner testified.
Kirchner then gestured.
The man testified he felt "extremely threatened." And a witness testified she felt insecure enough to cal 911.
In his appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, Kirchner argued his gesture didn't create a hazardous or physically offensive condition, which are elements of disorderly conduct.
The court disagreed, finding Kirchner "... approached (the man) in his own backyard" and made the shooting gesture.
"This act served no legitimate purpose, and recklessly risked provoking a dangerous altercation," the court wrote.
The court also discounted Kirchner's contention that he didn't intend to cause a public inconvenience — another element of the crime — because he made the gesture to a specific individual.
The court noted his gesture prompted a witness to call police.
Kirchner's attorney, Robert David Bacher, said they won't appeal further, though the disagreed with court's finding.
"I thought making a hand gesture directed at a single individual was not disorderly conduct under the crimes code," he said. "I recognize the court did not agree."