Teen dies after being shot during botched drug deal in Freeland

By Ed Lewis and Dan Stokes - [email protected]
Gambardella -
Brandon Joseph Gambardella, 18, right, is seen being led to his arraignment Monday. He stands accused of shooting Anthony Bonney, 17, earlier Monday in Freeland over an alleged drug deal gone wrong. Bonney later died at a hospital. - Courtesy WNEP

A 17-year-old from Freeland who police said was shot during a botched drug deal at a park early Monday has died.

Anthony Bonney died Monday afternoon at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township, according to the Luzerne County Coroner’s Office.

An autopsy is being scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday.

State police at Hazleton arrested Brandon Joseph Gambardella, 18, of West Hazleton, hours after the shooting.

He was initially charged with two counts of aggravated assault.

But Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis acknowledged Tuesday that the charges will likely be upgraded to criminal homicide.

Investigators allege Bonney passed off a mixture of drywall shavings and baking soda as cocaine to Gambardella.

According to a criminal complaint:

Gambardella agreed via Facebook messenger to meet Bonney and James Joseph Shanda to purchase cocaine for $110. Bonney and the other male did not have the drug, but went ahead with the plan anyway.

Gambardella was driven by two females to the transaction location in Freeland.

Bonney and Shanda approached the car at about 1:45 a.m. and completed the deal. But then Gambardella said he wanted to test the cocaine, and the males fled. Gambardella began to chase them.

Moments later, the females heard gunfire, they told troopers.

When Gambardella returned to the vehicle, he told them “he did not mean for the shooting to happen,” the complaint says. The weapon used was described as a dark semi-automatic handgun.

Shanda told investigators he heard the gunshot and saw Bonney fall to the ground on Sabol Street. Shanda then called 911.

Bonney was flown to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township, where he later died.

Gambardella was arraigned by District Judge Daniel O’Donnell in Sugarloaf Township on Monday afternoon and jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility without bail.

Gambardella
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_Brandon-Gambardella-06182018-3.jpgGambardella

Brandon Joseph Gambardella, 18, right, is seen being led to his arraignment Monday. He stands accused of shooting Anthony Bonney, 17, earlier Monday in Freeland over an alleged drug deal gone wrong. Bonney later died at a hospital.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_WNEP_gambardella-8.jpgBrandon Joseph Gambardella, 18, right, is seen being led to his arraignment Monday. He stands accused of shooting Anthony Bonney, 17, earlier Monday in Freeland over an alleged drug deal gone wrong. Bonney later died at a hospital. Courtesy WNEP

By Ed Lewis and Dan Stokes

[email protected]