He was shooting at his friend at a gun range ‘for no apparent reason.’ Then, a stranger shot and killed him.

ERIE, Pa. – Two men were taking turns firing a weapon at a gun range on state game lands in Greene Township, Pennsylvania on Tuesday afternoon when one of the men turned on the other and began firing at him.

A man in a neighboring shooting stall then fired his weapon at the shooter in an apparent move to stop the attack, killing the shooter, Pennsylvania State Police investigators  said.

State police are trying to determine why the man killed, identified as 26-year-old Robert A. Eppley, turned the gun on his friend, said Lt. Mark Weindorfof Pennsylvania State Police Troop E in Lawrence Park Township.

No charges had been filed as of Wednesday morning.

Eppley was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting Tuesday afternoon at the State Game Lands 109 gun range by Erie County Deputy Coroner John Maloney.

A 67-year-old Erie man who state police said shot Eppley was questioned and later released as part of the ongoing investigation into Tuesday’s incident, Weindorf said on Wednesday morning.


Also questioned, he said, was the man shot by Eppley, identified by state police only as a 28-year-old Erie man. He was shot multiple times and was taken to UPMC Hamot for treatment before being released from the hospital on Tuesday night, Weindorf said.

A motive in the shooting “is completely unknown,” Weindorf said Wednesday. Investigators have so far been unable to identify any issue between the two men to explain why the shooting happened, he said.

The shooting was reported to state police on Tuesday at 2:08 p.m. According to Weindorf, Eppley and the 28-year-old Erie man arrived at the gun range in separate vehicles, with their girlfriends, after one of the men had just purchased a pistol and they wanted to shoot the new gun.

Weindorf said everyone was taking turns shooting the gun. At one point Eppley had the gun and had just fired five rounds when he turned and began firing the weapon at the 28-year-old man, who was standing about 10 feet from him, “for no apparent reason,” Weindorf said.


Pennsylvania State Police investigate a shooting Dec. 22, at the State Gamelands 109 shooting range on Sampson Station Road in Greene Township.


The 67-year-old man who was nearby, who Weindorf said had no connection to the two men, saw what was happening and fired on Eppley, who was still shooting at his friend, Weindorf said.

Investigators spoke with everyone who was at the gun range during the incident, including three people who were on the facility’s rifle range and who said they did not witness the shooting but heard it.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has closed the gun range until further notice, Weindorf said.

*story by USA Today