In a tragic incident on November 22, a 15-year-old boy used his father’s gun to fatally shoot a 39-year-old man in Pottstown. According to authorities, the teenager shouted those words immediately after the incident occurred.
Thomas James Niarhos, a resident of Stowe, is facing charges of first-degree murder in the daytime slaying of Jeremiah “Jay” Waylon Hawkins. The incident occurred near the Pottstown Train Station on South Hanover Street, according to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele.
According to court documents, the teen boy was spotted hanging around Security Plaza shortly before 6 a.m. on July 13. When questioned by the police, he claimed that Hawkins had sexually assaulted his girlfriend behind a dumpster nearby. Violating curfew, the police escorted him back home.
On November 22nd, Niarhos came back to the area, this time armed with his father’s gun. Thomas Niarhos Sr. informed the police that he had been keeping the gun locked in a safe. The affidavit confirms this information.
According to court records, surveillance footage captured the teenager and Hawkins at the intersection of South Hanover Street and Security Plaza just before noon. The footage shows Niarhos extending his arm towards Hawkins, prompting Hawkins to attempt to knock the gun out of his hands using a bicycle tire, as detailed by the police in the affidavit.
According to the explanation given by DA Steele, Niarhos fired a shot, which caused Hawkins to fall to the ground. Subsequently, he fired another shot, resulting in Hawkins’ death, as confirmed by the police.
On July 13, 2023, Pottstown Detectives reached out to the 16-year-old girlfriend and her mother regarding the alleged rape. According to the affidavit, the girl informed her mother that “something had happened to her” in Pottstown but did not provide any further details about the incident. In response, the detectives advised the mother to take her daughter to Children’s Hospital for a Sexual Assault Nurse Examination. However, the next day, the mother contacted the detectives again and informed them that they did not wish to pursue a criminal investigation into the matter.
According to the District Attorney, they recovered the .40 caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic firearm of his father, along with two spent shell casings, at the scene.
The stolen gun belongs to Niarhos Sr., who is the Executive Director of Pottstown Beacon of Hope, a year-round assistance organization for homeless residents in Pottstown, according to his LinkedIn profile. Hawkins, the shooter, was homeless at the time, as explained by the police. Niarhos Jr., the shooter’s father, informed the police that he discovered a note in his son’s bedroom indicating his intention to run away. Additionally, he found a bag of clothes and a cellphone charger packed in the same room. It is worth mentioning that the boy had only been living with his father since the beginning of the summer.
Niarhos is facing adult charges, as stated in the DA’s release and confirmed by his court docket. The charges against him include:
- Homicide murder in the first degree.
- Felony murder in the third degree.
- Felony firearms are not to be carried with a license.
- Misdemeanor possession of a firearm by a minor.
- Misdemeanor possession of an instrument of crime.
According to the District Attorney, the accused was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Margaret Hunsicker and is currently being held without bail at the Montgomery County Youth Center. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. on November 30th before Magisterial District Judge Scott T. Palladino, as stated in his court docket.