Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark on Wednesday defended his decision to seek a higher bail for a Concord man accused of attempted murder in the shooting of his younger brother.
A judge Tuesday agreed to increase the bail for Dominick "Nick" Drumsta III to $350,000 from $20,000. Prosecutors had asked for bail to be set at $500,000.
"The bail that was originally set in town court was inappropriate," Clark said. "The charges are attempted murder. The one brother is in the hospital, and we don't know if he's going to live or not."
The family was upset by the change in bail. They would have had difficulty paying a $20,000 bail, family members said.
"They say he is a threat to society, which is ridiculous," said Linda Drumsta.
Nick Drumsta, 19, is held on attempted murder and assault charges after he shot his 16-year-old brother, Ryan, in the family home Saturday. The Drumsta family said Ryan's condition has stabilized after two surgeries in Erie County Medical Center, although he was still listed in critical condition.
Nick Drumsta's family says the shooting was an accident and that when Nick Drumsta pointed a gun that wouldn't ordinarily have been loaded at his brother, it fired.
Clark said the case is still being investigated and it would need to go before a grand jury before a trial could be held.
"The Sheriff's [Office] didn't think it was an accident; they filed the charges," Clark said. "They thought there was enough evidence to charge the intentional crime.
"Whenever you have an interfamilial thing like this, where one family member injures another, it always becomes difficult. They're saying it's an accidental shooting; we're aware of their contention."
Dominick Drumsta Jr., the boys' father, said the family wasn't aware of the hearing on bail until the pastor from their church tried to visit him in the Erie County Holding Center and Nick wasn't there. He was in court.
Clark said the use of the words "threat to himself and others" is typically used in bail hearings involving attempted murder cases.
"I was told that he was diagnosed with some kind of disorder he was receiving treatment for," said Clark. "The exact nature of it, I don't know."
The Drumstas confirmed Nick is on medication for depression but "was all up to date on his meds."
Clark said the progress of the case may depend on Ryan Drumsta's condition, since he would be a witness.
"Ultimately, what's going to happen is that a grand jury's going to look at this," he said. "For now, the victim is in the hospital. Things are being held in abeyance."
A felony hearing on the case in Concord Town Court scheduled for today was waived, said John Jordan, the Drumstas' attorney.
"The threshold is whether there is reasonable cause that a felony was committed," said Jordan. "The boy basically gave a statement admitting he shot his brother; now whether he's guilty of any crime is a whole different ball game, and that will be in another avenue."
The case will be heard in State Supreme Court.