Accused of severing the bones in a young woman’s lower leg in half with a 9 mm bullet during the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo, and shooting up the home of a person who witnessed it, two Casper teens are facing multiple charges in felony-level court.
Endre Arion Wass, who was 16 when charged and turns 17 this year, is set to give his plea Sept. 28 in the Natrona County District Court to seven felony counts accusing him of shooting a young woman in the leg just outside the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo, then shooting up the home of an eyewitness two days later.
Benjamin Jackson-Rocca, who also was 16 when charged, faces three felonies alleging he conspired with Wass to shoot at people.
Charged as an adult, Jackson-Rocca asked the Natrona County District Court on Monday to let him argue in favor of transferring to juvenile court instead, which could shave decades off his possible sentence if he’s successful.
Wass also is being prosecuted as an adult, the Casper Police Department confirmed.
The investigation started at the fairgrounds when two youths were arguing over a girl.
Someone called dispatch at about 10:22 the evening of July 11 to report a disturbance involving 10-20 people at the south entrance to the Natrona County Fairgrounds near the intersection of Fairgrounds and Fairside roads, according to an evidentiary affidavit by Natrona County Sheriff’s Cpl. Ken Jividen.
In the chaos, someone threatened to “go get a gun.” One minute later, a single gunshot sounded near the entrance.
A deluge of 911 calls followed, amid the sound of a woman screaming.
As she was walking south on the sidewalk, an 18-year-old Casper woman’s leg had buckled, dropping her, and she lay screaming on the ground with one-half of her lower leg dangling loosely, the affidavit claims.
She was taken to the Wyoming Medical Center, where staffers confirmed that the tibia and fibula of her left leg both were fractured by a bullet-like projectile that passed altogether through her leg, “effectively leaving the bottom of her leg only connected through skin, tendons, veins and muscle,” says the document.
A surgeon had to rejoin her leg bones with a metal rod and numerous screws.
In the early hours of the next morning, Natrona County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Taylor Courtney interviewed the victim. She reported she’d been walking on the sidewalk toward the fight when something struck her left leg. She collapsed in pain and screamed, not knowing who shot her or why.
Flash Of Green
Witnesses from that night described a silver-colored car turning south on Fairgrounds Road from a vacant lot, then fleeing the scene just as the shot sounded. Witnesses also saw a laser’s green flash at the time of the shooting, says the affidavit.
Someone – the affidavit does not say who – found a single spent 9 mm shell casing on Fairgrounds Road. It bore the markings “OMPC,” the number “18” and “9mm,” and had green waterproofing sealant between its primer and case.
Jividen interviewed an anonymous source whom the affidavit calls “Source 1.”
Source 1 said the shooter was Endre Wass, accompanied by Benjamin Jackson-Rocca. They had gone to the fair with Wass in the passenger seat of the silver-colored car.
Wass was trying to shoot Anicio Bernard, who is 19 this year, over a dispute about Bernard having dated Wass’ current girlfriend, the affidavit relates.
The document says one of Wass’ family members later confirmed to Sgt. Courtney that Wass and Bernard had been feuding and threatening each other over this girl in the days leading up to the shooting.
Law enforcement agents received surveillance video from a nearby building the day after the shooting.
The video allegedly revealed a male who appeared to be Wass walking southbound toward the empty lot three minutes before the shooting wearing a black hoodie, grey sweatpants and white shoes.
Bernard also appeared to be walking toward the lot after Wass, the affidavit claims.
The video also captured the disturbance, then the gunshot sound at 10:23 p.m.
At that exact moment the young woman walking dropped and screamed out, “I can’t walk!” She then lifted her leg, and the lower portion of her leg dangled, the document says.
“The evidence and witness statements obtained indicated that Wass intended to shoot Anicio Bernard over a feud regarding a girlfriend/ex-girlfriend,” wrote Jividen. “However, Wass missed Bernard and shot an uninvolved citizen instead.”
The affidavit claims that Wass and Jackson-Rocca figured out that Source 1 had talked to investigators.
At 5:30 on the morning of July 13 – two days after the fairgounds shooting – a Casper resident called 911 saying he heard 10 gunshots near his house. Two more people called 911 from that same neighborhood, one reporting between seven and 10 shots, the other reporting five.
By 6:05 a.m someone called dispatch from inside the bullet-ridden house describing the attack as “retaliation” pertaining to the fairgrounds shooting.
Casper Police Department officers arrived at the home and found 10 bullet holes in it, with five of them hitting the room where Source 1 had been sleeping. Another bullet hit a different room, where a 12-year-old child was sleeping at the time of the attack, the affidavit says.
“The only reason (they) were not struck appeared to be nothing more than sheer luck,” wrote Jividen in the document.
Agents found nine spent 9 mm casings bearing the same markings and waterproofing sealant as the casing recovered at the fairgrounds.
Police arrested Wass that same day at a home in Casper. They also found Jackson-Rocca there and arrested him, says the affidavit.
The document says agents then found a backpack in the home, in which they found a Taurus 9 mm handgun with a laser sight mounted to a rail below its barrel, and numerous unfired rounds of 9 mm ammunition.
The bullets had the same markings and green sealant as the casings found at the fairgrounds and the bullet-riddled house, the affidavit alleges.
Also in the bag, agents reportedly found a black hoodie.
Casper police detectives interviewed Jackson-Rocca the day of his arrest.
Jackson-Rocca confirmed that he was with Wass when a driver picked them up early that morning and took them to Source 1’s home, says the affidavit.
“Jackson-Rocca claimed to not know what Wass was going to shoot, although Jackson-Rocca knew Wass carried a gun on his person,” the document says, adding that Jackson-Rocca confirmed that he’d been informed that Source 1 had “cooperated” with investigators after the fairgrounds shooting.
We’re Going To Colorado
Overnight July 13 and 14, Jividen interviewed an anonymous source the document calls Source 3.
Source 3 said Wass and Jackson-Rocca rode to Source 1’s home the morning of July 13, and that Wass fired shots from the rear driver’s-side window at the house.
Jackson-Rocca then told the driver, “Go, go, go!” and the driver fled the area, the affidavit relates.
Wass kept making comments about being “grown up,” and “not being a kid anymore,” and not being afraid to engage in a shooting again.
The source would have “had to know that this (shooting) would happen for snitching,” Wass said, allegedly.
The boys asked their driver to take them to the Fort Collins, Colorado, area, says the affidavit. They made it at least as far as a gas station in Douglas, Wyoming, where a surveillance video captured them exiting the vehicle.
But the driver decided not to take them to Fort Collins and drove them back to Casper instead.
And Then A … Burglary?
Natrona County Sheriff’s deputies went to a home in the county July 18 to investigate a burglary. They learned that a juvenile male was inside the home in question and somehow – the affidavit does not say how – agents became aware that the boy was another victim of the single gunshot Wass had allegedly fired July 11 at the fairgrounds.
The juvenile, identified as Source 4, agreed to give an interview.
He said Jackson-Rocca got in his face the night of the fairgrounds disturbance, so close that the source could feel Jackson-Rocca’s lips on his face, says the affidavit.
People who were with Jackson-Rocca and Wass challenged the unidentified teen to a fistfight at the fairgrounds, but police broke up the altercation, the document adds.
Then Source 4 got into an altercation with an entirely different group of people.
Later Source 4 saw Jackson-Rocca in the dirt parking lot near Fairgrounds Road. And soon a “grey four-door” passenger car reportedly pulled out of the lot and stopped at the entrance to the road.
The source heard Jackson-Rocca yell, “Shoot him! Shoot him!” then he heard a single gunshot, the affidavit relates. That was when something hit the back of Source 4’s right leg, and his leg slightly buckled, the document says. But he was able to run away from the area with his girlfriend.
“The bullet had passed through the meaty portion of Source 4’s leg” in the back of his knee, says the affidavit.
The Natrona County District Attorney’s Office originally charged Wass on July 14, though the prosecutor filed a new affidavit with a seventh charge after evidence of the alleged aggravated assault against Source 4 surfaced July 18.
If he’s convicted on all counts, Wass could face up to 70 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
He faces five counts of aggravated assault, one count of intimidating a witness and another count of felony property destruction.
Prosecutors charged Jackson-Rocca on Sept. 7, his case file indicates. He faces one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, another of conspiracy to intimidate a witness, and another of felony property destruction. Each carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and between $5,000 and $10,000 in fines
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.