SUGARLOAF TWP. — A West Hazleton teen accused of fatally shooting a 17-year-old during what state police allege was a botched drug deal in Freeland will now face a criminal homicide charge in Luzerne County Court.
Brandon Joseph Gambardella, 18, appeared for a preliminary hearing Thursday before District Judge Daniel O’Donnell, who forwarded the homicide charge to county court.
Gambardella is accused of fatally shooting Anthony Bonney, of Freeland, on June 18.
According to the criminal complaint:
Gambardella agreed via Facebook messenger to meet Bonney and James Joseph Shanda to purchase cocaine for $110.
Bonney and the other man did not have the drug, but went ahead with the plan anyway.
Gambardella was driven by two females to the meeting at Freeland Public Park.
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 Bonney and Shanda fled.
Gambardella chased them.
Moments later, the females heard gunfire and Gambardella returned to the vehicle and reportedly said he didn’t mean for the shooting to happen.
Shanda told police he heard the gunshot and saw Bonney fall to the ground.
Luzerne County Coroner William Lisman said Bonney died after suffering a gunshot wound to the head.
Gambardella remains jailed at the county lockup without bail.