The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

May 15, 2013

"He was the innocent bystander"

Man shot to death outside home

By Tom Davidson
Herald Staff Writer

FARRELL — Andrew T. Walko went out Monday night to walk his dogs. He never made it back home.

The 44-year-old, longtime Sharon resident ended up getting shot and bleeding to death in his driveway as police arrived.

“He was the innocent bystander,” Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Chief Riley Smoot said Tuesday.

Walko and his wife, Jennifer, had recently moved to 824 Emerson Ave. in Farrell, across the street from the home of Jennifer’s son, according to Walko’s father Anthony, who lives in Thorndale, Texas.

“He was out walking his dog, and he ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Anthony Walko, a Sharon native, said.

Walko was gone longer than usual, his wife told police, and she looked outside around 11:15 p.m. to see if everything was OK. She said she saw people fighting inside her son Nicholas Verrill’s house at 823 Emerson Ave., police said.

Nicholas Verrill’s brother Bradley said he was at his mother’s home when she saw the fight, and he went across the street to help his brother, he told police.

After Bradley Verrill left her house, Jennifer Walko said she heard two gunshots.

One of the shots hit her husband in the chest.

Andrew Walko was outside Verrill’s house when he was shot and left a trail of blood across the street to his driveway, where he collapsed, police said.

Southwest Mercer County Police were dispatched to the shooting at 11:18 p.m., and Andrew Walko was pronounced dead at 11:46 p.m. in the emergency room of UPMC Horizon, Farrell, police said.

Seventeen hours later, Miguel Julians Huey, 26, of 200 Orange Drive, Apt. 7A, was in District Judge Ronald E. Antos’ Farrell courtroom.

Huey was taken into custody at 8:04 a.m. and spent the day being questioned by authorities.

Police say Huey, also known as “Young Get ’Em,” and two other men were in the process of robbing and beating Nicholas Verill when Bradley Verill intervened. Huey, police said, shot at Bradley Verill and hit Andrew Walko instead.

Huey denied that version of events during his arraignment.

“I didn’t do nothing. All I did was go buy weed and run away when two other people ran into the house,” Huey told Antos.

Huey asked what “you all” were accusing him of doing.

“Please understand: I am not ‘You all’,” Antos told Huey. “I’m the mediator here.”

Antos arraigned Huey on charges of criminal homicide, conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, two counts of aggravated assault, carrying a firearm without a license, terroristic threats and unlawful restraint. No bail was set.

Huey’s friends and family members packed Antos’ courtroom, which stayed open late for the arraignment.

According to the police affidavit:

Huey was identified as one of three men who came to Nicholas Verrill’s house Monday night.

Although they hadn’t met “face-to-face,” before, Nicholas Verrill told Huey he could stop by.

Huey was out of breath and asked for a glass of water when he came over, Verrill told police. After he drank the water, Huey opened an outside door as if he was going to leave and a large black man with his face covered stormed into the house, brandishing a handgun.

Nicholas Verrill said he ran toward the front door to try to “escape,” and as he opened it another man forced the door closed.

Huey then came into the room armed with a revolver, hit him in the head and demanded money and any other valuables in the home, Verrill said.

Verrill handed over $40, and Huey led him at gunpoint into his bedroom. Huey then searched his pocket and took his wallet, which had $27 in cash that Verrill hadn’t given up.

Huey told Verrill if he lied again he’d kill him, Verrill told police.

Huey and the other men started taking televisions out a side door, and Verrill tried, unsuccessfully, to jump out of the bedroom window.

Huey and one of the other men came back into the room and starting hitting Verrill.

That’s when Bradley Verrill, after seeing the fight, crossed the street and kicked in a door. Huey shot at him once, missing, Nicholas Verrill said.

Nicholas Verrill said he saw his stepfather by a vehicle in the driveway and told police he saw Huey shoot toward Walko and then saw Walko clutch his chest.

Nicholas Verrill opened the bedroom window and jumped out through the screen, ran across the street and saw Walko collapse in the driveway.

Walko was “bleeding profusely from his chest and became unresponsive,” Verrill told police, who arrived shortly thereafter.

Nicholas Verrill was treated at UPMC Horizon, Farrell, for injuries to his jaw, head, face and mid-section, police said.

The other men who took part in the alleged robbery haven’t been identified.

“We’re still trying to piece all of this together,” Smoot said.

Walko’s family didn’t answer the doors at the Emerson Avenue homes, but Anthony Walko talked about his son in a telephone interview.

The elder Walko said he last talked to his son about two weeks ago.

“He wanted to borrow quite a bit of money to pay bills,” the elder Walko said.

Andrew Walko had recently lost a “good job” at Sharon Metal Fence in Wheatland and he and his wife, who is battling cancer, had to move from their Sharon apartment, his father said.

The elder Walko fathered Andy with his first wife, a Thai national, while he was serving in Asia in the Air Force in 1968, he said.

“We talked maybe once every couple months. Andy was always on his own (independent),” he said. “He left us when he was around 14 or 15 years old.”

“Andy was so quiet, he never bothered anybody,” he said.

“I loved him,” Tony Walko.