Upper St. Clair Man Jailed on Homicide Charge

Online records show that Brandon Daniel Thomas was arraigned early Friday and remanded to the Washington County Jail.

City of Washington Police charged an Upper St. Clair man with a single count of homicide stemming from the shooting death Thursday of a 55-year-old Washington man in a grocery store parking lot.

The Observer-Reporter newspaper indicated that Brandon Daniel Thomas, 30, is accused of fatally shooting Vaughn A. Simonelli.

Online court records show that Thomas was arraigned at 4 a.m. Friday before district Judge Mark Wilson and remanded to the Washington County Jail after being denied bail, according to online court records.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Thomas on Oct. 24, online court records show.

"The victim was involved in altercation with another male that led to gunfire in
the parking lot of Shop nā€™ Save," Washington County Coroner Tim Warco wrote in a release Thursday.

No Name October 20, 2012 at 06:26 PM
This man is a hero with a well documented and long history of nothing but valor, clear thinking under pressure and just decisions. The man he defended himself against has an equally well established history of criminal violence. If Brandon Thomas the need to defend himself then you can bet his perceived threat was legitimate. C.Charo
Bryan Smith October 20, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Amanda is hot!
A October 21, 2012 at 08:15 PM
I agree with C.Charo. Brandon would only do something if his life was in jeopardy. He is a decorated hero. We are here for you.
jaimie d garrett October 22, 2012 at 11:15 PM
well let me tell you something is shooting an unarmed man not once, but twice justified, and the victims history has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that only god can take someones life. If brandon thomas is some hero my name is santa clause.HO<HO<HO
jaimie d garrett October 22, 2012 at 11:25 PM
thank you me too
T&B T October 23, 2012 at 12:26 AM
What kind of a goof punches someone in the face over a simple traffic fender bender? I am not defending the reaction of the other fellow. BUT.. when you decide to be the first to do something totally stupid like punching someone over nothing, don't be surprised if it escalates into something worse.
Jake October 23, 2012 at 03:32 AM
I remember when men used there fist not a gun.
Good Guys Always Win October 23, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Who was Simonelli to decide he can attack someone with violence? I bet if someone followed you around then attacked you through your car window and saying they were going to kill you, you would be the first one advocate the idea that everyone has the right to self defense. And as to what would I say if Simonelli was my uncle? That answer is easy. You reap what you sow. Violence begets violence in kind. You can't attack someone with violence and feel safe that they won't reciprocate. I don't think anyone who is reasonable would say that any loss of life is good, myself included. But as the saying goes, you play with fire long enough, expect to get burned.
Good Guys Always Win October 23, 2012 at 11:42 PM
You have no idea what Brandon Thomas was trained in. He could have been a chaplains assistant for all you know. Your argument against Thomas is a common one for people that do not have a clear and/or logical thinking process. That aside, being old or out of shape or a grandfather does not give the right to chase people around and punch them in the face. Thomas could not have known the guy didn't have a weapon and besides that, does it give the right to beat someone? Are we as citizens in a free and civil society supposed to trust in the benevolence of our attackers for mercy? The facts of this are clear. Your uncle is a repeat, violent offender that eventually attacked the wrong guy and died for it. Good lesson to be learned here. Don't assume you can attack who you wish just because they don't appear dangerous. Your got shot because he was foolish and arrogant. Shooting twice is just doing the job. Pulling a firearm in self defense means pulling it when you believe, given reasonable understanding of the circumstances at the time, that your life is in immediate, mortal danger. So when you pull it be ready to use it. There are many shades of wounded but only one shade of dead. Would you feel better if Simonelli died with just one shot?
Good Guys Always Win October 24, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Well said sir. You can't expect a physical attack to calm the situation. I do wish it was back in the day when you can have it out with someone if you both felt there was no other recourse, and you had a reasonable expectation to be finished with it when the fight was over. Maybe the 'winner' would help you up off the ground and buy you a beer. These days if you fall in a fight you are most likely to get stomped on until the other guy gets tired or someone runs him off. More likely than not it will be a group on one or a group on a couple. I don't know where our society is headed but I don't believe it is good.
guidra76@hotmail.com October 24, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Brandon....Hang in there Bro...!!!! Guidry
Wash County Citizen October 24, 2012 at 10:30 PM
The story in a nutshell: Something happened on the road, we don't know what. Brandon Thomas disengaged and retreated to a shopping center parking lot. Simonelli chased after him. Simonelli blocked Thomas in with his car. Simonelli launched a physical assault against Thomas. Thomas shot him- self defense.
Wash County Citizen October 24, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Many members of the Simonelli family have extensive criminal records in this region. Thomas did the good citizens of the county a public service by removing one of them. Most of the posts in support of Simonelli are from members of his family. Here's a hint: when you see someone making an anti Thomas comment on here, or in the newspaper, look up their criminal record on the net- Pennsylvania's Unified Judicial System Web Portal. Thomas would have been one more victim of these "people" had he not acted in self defense.
Gerry Kranz October 25, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Good Guys Always Win...are you Brandons boyfriend?
Gerry Kranz October 25, 2012 at 03:22 AM
wah wah wah, did you have your butt kicked too?
Sad :( October 25, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Can someone explain to me why someone would have to have a machine gun and bullet proof vest in your automobile? What Simonelli did may have been wrong- (yes there is a crimminal background) but, Thomas was still in his Hummer (HELLLLOOO). How many people can punch someone in a vehicle like that? I am 5ft 7 and there is no way I could reach in and punch a driver. If your life was in danger why would you put your window down? Oh I forgot he is a decorated hero. By the way thanks for your service but that doesn't mean come home and put you skill to use over here. It seems like from the Red Roof incident and this incident - he always thought someone was after him. Sounds like a good reason to grant him a consealed weapons permit. If thats the case, we all need to get one. For the Wash County Citizen - I don't have a criminal background, but I was taught not to point a gun at anyone. By the way good citizens of the county don't all think a "public service" is lets shoot everybody who has a crimminal record.
No Name October 25, 2012 at 10:55 PM
I realize that not everyone knows anything about guns. Just to clarify, the newspaper said he had a semi automatic pistol. Not an automatic pistol. Far and away the most common type of pistol carried for self defense in this country and the world. And if you look at it from Brandon's point of view if a guy follows you around in his car and then blocks you in and comes to your window reaching in to attack you you may have no idea what he has in his hand if anything. The only thing you can be sure of is his intentions to do you harm. Besides, this is not a 17th century duel to first blood among gentlemen. I don't know why so many people feel that if a guy comes into your vehicle to attack you that you are some how obligated to use equal or lesser force regardless of circumstance. If you are kicking the hell out of me why do I have to let you keep going and hope you stop before I am retarded or dead? No one has the right to attack another human unless they are defending themselves or someone else from harm. If an attacker gets hurt or killed in the process of his aggression too bad. DON'T ATTACK PEOPLE! Maybe the person you attack will refuse to be a victim. If you are a criminal this is an occupational hazard. God Bless you Brandon. Hold your own! Maybe if this happened more often people would stop attacking each other at least out of a mutual fear being seriously hurt or killed.
No Name October 25, 2012 at 11:03 PM
To Gerry Kranz, you obviously were the dude in high school that sat alone and probably spent an inordinate amount of time locked in your own locker. It is too bad the internet gives so many people the feeling of self entitlement to talk trash without repercussion. You are sad little nit whit Gerry and it shows in your posts. Thanks for your non contribution to a serious discussion. Word of advice, leave the adult conversations to adults. You should be ashamed of yourself.
LV October 26, 2012 at 03:44 AM
To no name. So if you you suffer from PTS or shell shock how are you allowd to get a permit to carry a firearm and if you fire twice its not self deffence He could have also easily just put the window up and lock doors
Sad :( October 26, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Brandon must ride with his window down when it is raining. And why would you pull into a parking lot where there is no other place to go. Maybe he was pulling into the parking lot to put on his bulletproof vest. If I'm not mistaking there is a police station not far. And by the way I know you were talking about my comment about guns-my mistake. Why do you have to ride around with a bulletproof vest and a cache of weapons in your vehicle? Why you chat about Simonelli's criminal background, maybe you should also think of Thomas' background (like the last few weeks) He has a family-why are you at a empty parking lot at 12:05am in the morning - don't you think they were wondering where he was at? Oh they treatend him by stealing his Hummer - Sounds like a good reason to be sitting in the parking lot with your vest on and a LOADED semiautomatic strapped to his waist.
No Name October 26, 2012 at 09:31 PM
LV, I understand your question and realize that there is a lot of misunderstanding about PTSD. It comes in a lot of forms and levels of severity but it certainly does not mean that because you are diagnosed that you are mentally incompetent which is what would bar you from having the permit. As to firing twice, it absolutely has no bearing on making it self defense or not based solely on the number of rounds fired in an incident. You are allowed to defend yourself with deadly force if you believe you or another are in danger of death or serious injury. You are not limited to one shot. It is whether or not you continued to shoot after there was no threat. Then it could be seen as unnecessary force and you could be in big trouble. Besides that a gun is used to kill. You are not allowed warning shots and certainly not allowed to 'shoot to wound'. As for putting the window up, I don't know the exact particulars (if anyone does please speak up) but I imagine the guys arm(s) were through the window before Brandon knew there was a need. Really, who expects someone to walk to your car and start punching you in the face?! What kind of douche bag does that?! If the attacker was intent on attacking (which it seems he certainly was) a tempered car window is not going to stop you. It is really not that hard to punch out a car window (not to be confused with a windshield which is laminated glass and VERY hard to get through). By the way, I do not claim to be a lawyer!
Jim Avel October 27, 2012 at 03:20 AM
It is interesting to note that none of Vaughn Simonelli's family has said on here or to the reporters that they see anything wrong in his chasing a man into a parking lot, holding him prisoner by blocking his car in, attacking him physically, etc. Obviously the values in this family are that they can commit any crime they wish to, and everyone else should just sit back and be their victims. Any law abiding family would be apologizing for Vaughn Simonelli's attack on an innocent passerby. There was a guy named Baumhammers who went on a murderous spree attacking innocent people in the South Hills a few years ago. Baumhammers' family apologized for his actions and told the world that his racist values were not the values of their family.
Jim Avel October 27, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Perhaps Mr. Thomas had a "car full" of weapons becaus there are violent criminals running wild in Washington county. Why don't you tell us about the charges against your father for aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, criminal mischief/damaging property? What did he do to the victim in those cases?
Jim Avel October 27, 2012 at 03:45 AM
LV why did your father fail to pay his court ordered restitution? LV, care to tell the world about the bench warrant against him, or the protection from abuse order obtained against him, and his arrest for violating it? Before this case is over, there is going to be a lot of information coming out about Vaughn Simonelli's lifetime pattern of behavior.
No Name October 29, 2012 at 11:45 PM
I am getting tired of certain people thinking that "hand to hand combat training" is some sort of Jet Lee mini school. First rule of hand to hand.....wait for it......don't use your hands unless there is nothing else! We don't know WHAT he was trained in, but even if he had been trained "hand to hand" would that mean if you take a self defense course you are legally prohibiting yourself from using anything else to defend yourself? That would be ridiculous. Brandon having any amount of legally bought and possessed weapons in his car has absolutely NOTHING to do with another person attacking you ILLEGALLY. Yes I can say what I want. It's called the 1st Amendment. An ideal that Brandon has suffered voluntarily to uphold and protect. Difference is I use it to defend Brandon (with logical arguments mind you) and you use it to defend your father's criminal assault. It's your right though so go ahead and say what you like. On a final note, a man can be your father AND a douche bag. One does not preclude the other. I sincerely wish this event never happened but it did and the result was out of both of our hands. I hope you and your family come to grips with this event and find peace. I really do. But taking Brandon away from his family would not only not bring your father back, it would compound the loss from this tragic event.
Texas T October 31, 2012 at 08:17 PM
so let me get this straight. two men possibly had a dispute on the road. one attempted to flee, the other pursued and was shot after attacking the other. The biggest argument for the family is that he was shot twice and by a veteran with hand to hand training? well from what i gather its common sense it doesn't matter if your upset if you would have punched me through my car after i tried to leave; A double tap would definitely be in order. Brandon was the victim not the reverse. The other gentleman escalated the situation by turning an altercation into an assault. Look at it from this perspective had the man be armed, it might be Brandons family without a father. i would never put that that to chance if someone began assaulting me, i dont know you, i dont know what your capable of but obviously you mean harm if your ballsy enough to punch someone throught their own car window. If anything they should tack on criminal trespass of the now deceased attacker since my car equals my property. in the end the whole thing is unfortunate loss of life is tragic but sometimes a chain of events never workout right. Free Brandon and uphold our consitutional rights. Aaron T from Texas
Amanda Gillooly November 01, 2012 at 12:00 AM
I deleted several comments because they contained personal attacks and profanity. I am now disabling comments for that reason. If you have any questions, email me at amanda.gillooly@patch.com.


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