A 29-year-old Hilltown man was sentenced Friday to up to four years in state prison on several firearms violations in an investigation that began when he pointed a gun at a woman in the parking lot of a Walmart in Hilltown Township, authorities said.
A woman told police she was with her 10-year-old daughter when she pulled into an open parking spot and noticed a man in a car next to hers cursing at her around 2:40 p.m. on Aug. 10, 2020, according to the Bucks County District Attorney's Office.
When she and her daughter got out of the car, the man -- later identified as William J. Winecker -- pointed a gun at them “asking if she wanted to die today,” Deputy District Attorney Megan Hunsicker said.
The woman and child hid behind a car, and Winecker sped away, Hunsicker said.
Hilltown Township police were able to track Winecker down by reviewing surveillance footage and seeing that he had dropped off a woman at the Walmart prior to making the threats, the DA's office said.
That woman identified the person who dropped her off as her son, Winecker, the DA's office said.
Hours later, around 12:55 a.m., police were dispatched to a domestic assault in progress at a home on Upper Church Road and spoke to Winecker’s mother, who walked out of the home "extremely emotional" and bleeding from her left ear, the DA's office said.
She reportedly told officers that Winecker hit her and broke her television because he was upset about the earlier incident at Walmart, and accused her of being a "snitch" to police, the DA's office said.
Later that month, police executed a search warrant at the Upper Church Road home and found a loaded handgun, two loaded rifles, and a loaded shotgun hidden in the attic of the house, the DA's office said.
Because of a past conviction, Winecker was prohibited from possessing a firearm, the DA's office said.
“The handgun and rifles did not have serial numbers and were completed ghost guns,” Hunsicker said.
Officers also found other 80% receivers, multiple gun-making tools, parts, and components, the DA's office said.
During the investigation, police learned that after the Walmart incident, Winecker hid all his gun tools, parts and completed firearms in the attic of his mother’s home and went to his grandmother’s house in Hackettstown, New Jersey, with the gun he pulled on the woman at Walmart, the DA's office said.
Police were not able to find the gun used in the Walmart incident, the DA's office said.
After reviewing prison phone calls, however, police heard Winecker use what they believe was coded language to direct his grandmother to get rid of it, the DA's office said.
His grandmother reportedly told police she threw the gun in the river, the DA's office said.
The Hilltown Police Department and the Washington Township Police Department in New Jersey were unable to find the gun after Winecker's grandmother's confession, the DA's office said.
Common Pleas Judge Diane E. Gibbons sentenced Winecker to two to four years in state prison, followed by six years’ state probation.
This defendant was a public menace,” District Attorney Matt Weintraub said.
“Due to the great work of Hilltown Detective Jim Browne, Deputy District Attorney Megan Hunsicker, and Bucks County Detectives, he is behind bars for the next two to four years."
The Hilltown Township Police Department were assisted by Bucks County Detectives and Washington Township (NJ) Police Department.
Deputy District Attorney Megan A. Hunsicker prosecuted the case.
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