Driver given more charges

The former Choices Nightclub bouncer arrested with murder suspect Hugo Baez now faces additional charges.

Brandon A. Midder, 24, of 317 Sixth Ave. was first arrested on a single count of illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after his arrest early Nov. 1 in Huntingdon County, hours after police said Baez gunned down 22-year-old Willie Solomon at the Sixth Avenue night spot, where Midder sometimes worked as a doorman.

Midder was due at Central Court on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on the charge, but Altoona police withdrew the original case and filed new charges that include six felonies ranging from criminal conspiracy and aggravated assault to hindering apprehension and carrying a firearm without a license.

“We believe that’s clearly overcharging him,” said Midder’s attorney, Steven Passarello, who said he learned of the potential for more charges from the Blair County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday.

According to the charges, police said that surveillance video from inside the bar shows that as Baez shot Solomon in the entranceway of the bar, Midder ran toward the exit and pulled a semi-automatic handgun from his jacket.

Police note Midder dropped the gun, causing it to slide across the barroom floor. Midder did retrieve the gun but didn’t know the clip had popped out when it was dropped, police said. Video shows Midder return to Baez in the entranceway and point the weapon at Solomon’s brother, Jacob Dormevil Jr., as he tried to come back inside the club, police said.

When questioned after his arrest, Midder admitted to having the gun in the club but initially told police he didn’t grab it after it was dropped. He later said he did pick up the handgun and told police he “tossed it” after leaving. Police said Midder first told investigators he bought the gun, a .380 caliber, on the street in Erie. The clip found in the club, however, was from a 9mm, and Midder ultimately admitted he was carrying a Hi Point 9mm the night of the shooting.

Midder said he was heading to Bellwood when he got a call from Baez, who offered him $100 to drive him out of the area, according to the charges. Midder told police he waited for Baez, who was dropped off at his car, and that Baez put items in the trunk.

Police said a search of Midder’s car turned up clothes worn by Baez at the time of the shooting as well as a 20-gauge shotgun and a .40 caliber Hi Point semi-automatic in a duffel bag. Police have not been able to determine the owner of the handgun. Both guns were loaded, police said.

Passarello said it appears as if the police are attempting to pull his client into a conspiracy with Baez.

Midder is due to appear before Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey Auker on Dec. 23 for a preliminary hearing on the case, and he remains in Blair County Prison in lieu of $100,000.