While state House Democrats wrangled late into the night Tuesday over an extraction tax for Marcellus Shale drillers, one local legislator found himself nearly in a struggle for his life.
State Rep. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, was accosted by four teenage boys at gunpoint late Tuesday, after returning from a late supper with his colleagues.
Mr. Solobay, 54, said Democratic House members stayed on the floor debating issues, such as the Marcellus Shale, until about 9:30 Tuesday night.
Afterward, a group of them went to dinner and about 11 p.m. headed back to a duplex rented by eight House members, including Mr. Solobay, in midtown Harrisburg.
Mr. Solobay said he and state Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Carrick, parked a car they were riding in about two blocks from their house, but as they walked home, saw a parking spot much closer to the house.
Mr. Solobay said Mr. Readshaw went into the house while he returned the car, intending to park it closer.
That's when four youths with hooded jackets and handkerchiefs covering their faces surrounded Mr. Solobay.
"They said," 'We want all of your stuff,' " he said today.
But instead of complying, Mr. Solobay, a former linebacker with the physique to match, said he "lunged at them," knocking them out of the way.
"I said, ' "Get the [expletive] out of here, punks,' " he said.
Two of the teens took off, while Mr. Solobay hustled into his car, locking the doors.
One of the remaining boys raised a gun to Mr. Solobay's window.
Mr. Solobay, who also serves as fire chief in Canonsburg, said he sat back as far as he could in the seat and activated the siren that was installed in his personal car in case of fire emergencies.
"As soon as I hit my siren, he took off," he said.
Mr. Solobay said he phoned 911 and within 20 minutes, Harrisburg police had two of the 16-year-old boys in custody. Although Mr. Solobay said he didn't see the faces of his attackers, he was able to identify their clothing.
The boys, Thomas Evans and Sharief Hand, of Harrisburg, were charged with armed robbery and conspiracy.
Charged as adults, the boys remained in the Dauphin County Jail while police search for their accomplices. Mr. Solobay believes all four were teenagers.
Though the experience was frightening, Mr. Solobay said it had a positive side.
"At least we got some of the trash off the streets of Harrisburg," he said.