The wives of two men accused of gunplay outside the Logan Valley Mall said there's more behind the story than what the police have claimed, and they are hoping to find out the identities of the men they say provoked the incident.
Jessica DeAngelis, 25, who along with her husband, Larry D. Morrow, 29, moved to Altoona from Florida three weeks ago, said her husband and his brother, Kevin D. Morrow, 37, are "not these horrible guys" they've been made out to be after their arrest July 23 on charges they fired a handgun in the mall's parking lot after an altercation with several unidentified, black men. The Morrows are white, and police said a racial slur uttered by one of them sparked the confrontation, but the women said it was the other men who provoked the Morrow brothers.
"I'm happy no one got injured," said DeAngelis, who said the couple moved from south Florida to start over.
"I'm so glad no one got hurt," added Danelle Morrow, 35, Kevin Morrow's wife, who said the couple have lived in Altoona, where her mother also lives, for seven years after having also lived in Florida.
Both women said they moved to central Pennsylvania to start over and said the incident at the mall wasn't just an act of random violence started by the Morrow brothers.
"There's more to this situation," DeAngelis said.
DeAngelis said the two brothers and she had gone to the mall that day to exchange a cellphone, and everyone was agitated when the store wouldn't accommodate them. She said she was still inside the mall, but Kevin and Larry were ahead of her, already outside the doors near the Applebee's restaurant when a beeping blue Jaguar began inching closer to Kevin's leg as the men tried to cross the road to the parking area.
While police said witnesses told them the Jaguar was red, the women said it was definitely blue. A red car was behind the blue Jaguar, DeAngelis said, when it stopped directly behind DeAngelis' minivan as the Morrow brothers were about to get in.
A black man jumped out, and Kevin Morrow yelled a racial slur, DeAngelis confirmed. It was then that three other black men, who were in a red Nissan Altima that was traveling behind the blue Jaguar, jumped out of their car, she said leaving the Morrow brothers facing four men.
It was one of the black men who first pulled a gun, DeAngelis said, and the shot that was fired by one of the Morrow brothers was aimed in the air, not toward the mall as police have claimed.
Police suspect it was Larry Morrow who fired a round before the brothers fled in the minivan. DeAngelis said the men fled because they wanted to get out of the situation, and they didn't realize police were even looking for them until after the van ran out of gas at Kmart.
DeAngelis said in their haste, they left her at the mall, something she and Danelle Morrow said were plenty mad about at the time.
"I'm glad the police caught them before we did," Danelle Morrow said.
A gun with an obliterated serial number was found in the van by police and the Morrow brothers, who are both convicted felons and are prohibited from carrying a gun, face felony aggravated assault and weapons charges and remain in Blair County Prison, $100,000 cash bail for each.
She said they have wanted to tell the police their side of the story, but so far Logan Township police haven't wanted to talk to them.
DeAngelis said the men were walking home, not running away from police, and when they realized they were wanted, they appeared to Altoona police officers along Union Avenue.
"I'm not saying what they did was the best thing they could have done," DeAngelis said. "I just wish it would have been handled differently."
Logan Township Police Chief Ron Heller said on Friday the woman can come forward with whatever information they have and that investigators are looking into the identity of the men in the Jaguar. Anyone with information about the case should contact Logan Township police, Heller said.
Meanwhile, the two women are busy trying to find out for themselves as much as they can about the men in the Jaguar, using Facebook to track down possible leads. They're also trying to find a new place to live, having been evicted because of the incident.
"We have four kids, and we have to be out by (Friday)," Danelle Morrow said.