City Council candidate arrested on gun charges


BUCKHANNON— A Buckhannon City Council candidate and local Director of the Opportunity House was arrested and released on bond Thursday morning. Matthew Aaron Kerner, age 53, faces charges of Brandishing a Deadly Weapon and Prohibited Person Possessing Firearms for an incident that reportedly occurred on May 4 in front of a Main Street business.

According to the criminal complaint, Kerner engaged in a verbal altercation with Michael Shaffer and subsequently pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the victim.  Investigating officer Sgt. Tom Posey of the Buckhannon Police Department stated, “After re-holstering the handgun, a few more words were exchanged and the two parted ways.”

Court documents said Kerner is “prohibited from possessing a firearm due to felony crime convictions.” The report goes on to explain that the defendant has a felony drug possession conviction and a felony false check conviction stemming from crimes committed in California in August of 2005. 

Shaffer said he and another man encountered Kerner with four of his Opportunity House residents outside the Sweet-A-Licious ice cream shop the Monday before last.  According to the victim, Kerner started shouting at him as he was trying to enter the establishment.  Shaffer stated, “I had my truck keys in my hand and started to walk in the store, when he threw his ice cream at me and it hit me.  I proceeded to put my keys in my pocket and that’s when he pulled his gun on me.”  After pulling the pistol out of his waistband, the victim said, “He put it within inches of my forehead.”

When the victim was asked what initiated the confrontation, Shaffer explained, “He thinks I destroyed some of his political signs.”  The criminal complaint alleges that Kerner said Shaffer had a closed pocketknife in his hand, which the victim explained was his Key Smart device.

The Buckhannon Police Department was advised of the incident that night, and after conducting an investigation, obtained a warrant for Kerner’s arrest.  The accused was reportedly allowed to self-report to Magistrate Court on the morning of May 14, where he was arraigned by Magistrate Mike Coffman. Bond was set in the amount of $20,000, which Kerner reportedly posted without being taken to jail.  The defendant is prohibited from making any contact with Shaffer and cannot possess any firearms or ammunition while on bond. 

If convicted, he faces not less than 90 days, nor more than one year in jail and/or a fine of not less than $50, nor more than $1,000 for Brandishing a Deadly Weapon.  Additionally, Kerner faces confinement for not less than 90 days, nor more than one year, as well as a fine of not less than $100, nor more than $1,000 if found guilty of being a Prohibited Person Possessing Firearms. 

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