Police: Fireworks start spat

An Altoona man faces charges after allegedly threatening neighbors over late-night fireworks.

Phillip L. Carles, 76, of 952 30th St. said he wasn’t angry and only carried a .25-caliber handgun outside with him because he didn’t recognize the three men in his neighbor’s yard and was concerned for his safety.

Altoona police allege Carles walked out of his home around 12:41 a.m. July 7 and asked his neighbor and another man to stop setting off fireworks and later returned, waving a handgun. According to the charges, Carles cocked the Raven Arms P-25 semi-automatic .25-caliber handgun and said something about having served 28 years in the military.

“It wasn’t much of an incident,” said Carles, who actually served 26 years in the Army and Army Reserves and turns 77 next month. “I didn’t know it was him sitting out there,” he added, referring to his neighbor. Carles said he and his wife are on good terms with their neighbor and his family and said he only got out of bed and walked outside because it was after midnight and one of the fireworks sounded as if it had hit his house.

“All I said to them was enough is enough,” Carles said, adding another woman was outside asking the men to cease setting off loud fireworks.

When Carles tried to open the front screen door, the handle fell off. That angered him more than the fireworks, so he headed out the back door to fix the front screen door because he could only get it to open from the outside, he said.

Then he thought, there are three men outside that are drinking that he didn’t know, so he said he brought along his unloaded gun as a precaution. “I never keep the clip in it,” Carles said.

Carles admits he told police that after fixing the door, as he was walking near the men, who he said were about 10 yards away, that he cocked the gun and said, “If you want to make noise, I can make noise, too.” Carles said he said it after one of the men yelled at him about how it was a free country and the men were free to make as much noise as they wanted.

“I wanted them to hear the click so they would think maybe he is a bad dude,” Carles said, adding it’s the first time he’s been in trouble with the law.

“I wasn’t really angry,” Carles said.

Police have charged Carles with two counts each recklessly endangering another person, simple assault and disorderly conduct, all second-degree misdemeanors, and he is due to appear at Central Court on Aug. 21 for a preliminary hearing.

Carles, who said he has spoken with an attorney, said police took his gun and after he remembered he owned another .25-caliber handgun, he informed the officers who handled the call and ultimately sold it to a local gun shop for parts.

As for the late-night fireworks, Carles said it’s part of life in Altoona.

“It happens every Fourth of July,” Carles said. “Someone starts a week early and they go a week late.”