A man from Hopewell Township was charged on Sunday with firing a round from a semiautomatic handgun at his wife while she sat in a vehicle that she had locked herself into. The woman had locked herself and a baby in the car to escape the man.
Bond was set at $100,000 by District Judge Larry Hopkins for Michael James Hribik, age 33. State police arrested him at 12:20 AM at his home after the woman called 911 and complained about domestic violence.
Police were told by Ashley Eileen Yasek that Hribik choked her while she was on the phone with 911. She said that she was able to escape with the baby and flee to a vehicle parked in Hribik’s driveway at 67 White Gate Road.
Yasek said that Hribik came back carrying a 20-gauge shotgun, firing two rounds from the gun into the woods. She said he also fired a shot into the tail lamp behind the driver seat with a .40-caliber handgun. Yasek was sitting in the passenger seat when Hribik fired.
The judge signed three warrants that gave police permission to search both the residence and electronic devices that Hribik owns, as well as drawing DNA from him.
Hribik is charged with making terroristic threats, strangulation, harassment, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, simple assault, and reckless endangerment.
According to a jail spokesman, Hribik is free after posting bond.
Domestic violence charges are bad enough. It’s incredibly easy to get those slapped on you, whether you did anything or not, but add in a firearm, and things start looking a whole lot worse. Just this past fall, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed legislation requiring gun owners who used their weapons as part of domestic violence to give up their firearms sooner. Now, people who have had final restraining orders issued against them or who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence charges must surrender their firearms within 24 hours. Up until now, they had 60 days to turn the guns in.
It looks to me like the police threw the book at Mr. Hribik. That’s not terribly unusual, especially given the guns and that child that was involved. Police often throw all the charges they can at a suspect, hoping something sticks.
The thing is, Hribik is going to lose a lot here. It’s going to be incredibly difficult to prove he didn’t use those guns to frighten his girlfriend. He’ll never be allowed to own another firearm, and the ones he has now will be confiscated. He could very likely lose any right to see his child. Then there’s the jail time he’ll likely serve, and even if he doesn’t serve any or serves very little, this was in the papers. His neighbors, friends, and family will all look at him differently, assuming he was guilty, and perhaps even avoiding him. He could lose his job and have difficulty finding a new one.
There are defenses for domestic violence, if one has not tried to scare their significant other with a gun and left evidence that he did so. Many times, the cops are called because one of the people in the home is angry or jealous, or just wants to cause trouble for the other person. An experienced attorney can argue these things and cause reasonable doubt in the minds of the judge and jury, leading to a dismissal of the charges.
I hope Mr. Hribik has hired an attorney with a lot of experience, and that he can at least get his charges reduced. There’s some serious jail time awaiting him, otherwise.
Please, people: don’t beat on your girlfriends, boyfriends, and kids. And for heaven’s sake, don’t shoot at them or try to scare them with a gun. If you have a problem with anger, get help. Don’t ruin your life and the lives of those around you by letting that anger get the best of you.
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