By John Celock
A Pennsylvania state legislator exchanged gunfire with assailants who attempted to mug him and another lawmaker at gunpoint in downtown Harrisburg Tuesday evening.
State Rep. Marty Flynn (D-Scranton), who holds a concealed carry permit, drew his weapon after two men approached him and Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie) while they were walking home. A statement from the state House Democratic caucus indicated that one of the assailants was next to the two lawmakers and demanded their wallets while a second suspect was across the street shouting directions at the first suspect. PennLive.com reported that a third suspect was in a car nearby.
The caucus statement indicated that Flynn drew the handgun and then exchanged shots with the first suspects. During the gunfire the suspects and Flynn and Bizzarro ran in different directions. No one was injured in the shooting. Flynn is a former prison guard in Lackawanna County.
Flynn and Bizzarro called Harrisburg police when they got back to the residence they share when the Legislature is in session. The statement said that Flynn turned over his gun to the Harrisburg police when they responded and indicated that he had exchanged gunfire with the suspects. Bizzarro and Flynn, both first term lawmakers, had gone to dinner with four other lawmakers and then walked two legislators back to the Capitol following a House session that ended at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night.
“We are used to fighting for the people in our districts every day,” Flynn said in a statement. “We certainly are going to stand up for ourselves and not become victims.”
Bizzarro and Flynn are not the first Pennsylvania lawmakers to be robbed at gunpoint near the Capitol in Harrisburg. In March 2012, state Rep. Jaret Gibbons (D-Ellwood City) was robbed at gunpoint along with his chief of staff and a college intern. Gibbons told PennLive at the time that he and his staff were emptying his car when they were approached by two men who then took wallets, cell phones and the intern’s car. Arrests were made in Gibbons’ robbery.
In addition to having been a prison guard, Flynn was a inmate education program coordinator in the Lackawanna County jails and has been a mixed martial arts fighter and professional boxer. Earlier in his career, Bizzarro was a victim/witness coordinator in the Erie County district attorney’s office. Both have indicated they are prepared to testify if arrests are made.
“We were extremely impressed by the professional manner in which the Harrisburg police officers responded to our call,” Bizzarro said in a statement. “We are very grateful.”