The trial began Tuesday for a Virginia man charged with attempted murder after a fight over a gas pump ended with gunfire.
Dmytro Solomatin, 26, of Reston, Va., appeared before Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Rubin on Tuesday. Solomatin was indicted Aug. 25 for second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault; two counts of reckless endangerment; and other weapons offenses.
According to court testimony, the alleged incident occurred at Freestate gas station, 20650 Germantown Rd., on Aug. 6, when Solomatin and another man, Michael Rickley of Germantown, began arguing over an available gas pump. The argument escalated into a fistfight. Jurors were shown surveillance footage of the men fighting on the ground, returning to their cars and what appears to be Solomatin firing a shot toward Rickley.
No one was hit. The bullet struck the tire of Rickley's Volkswagen Rabbit. Solomatin voluntarily went to the Montgomery County Police 5th district station in Germantown about an hour after the incident, police said in an affidavitt.
During their opening statements, attorneys offered different accounts on what happened at the gas station, calling into question who instigated the fight and whether Solomatin intentionally fired the gun at Rickley.
Solomatin’s attorney Scott Rolle argued that Rickley was the aggressor and that Solomatin — after having been kicked in the stomach and punched in the face during the altercation — fired the gun at Rickley’s tire “to get him to back off.”
“He hit was he was aiming for: the tire,” Rolle told jurors Tuesday.
Rolle said Solomatin, had driven alone from a family gathering to stop for gas. A 9 mm handgun registered in Solomatin's name was inside his silver Infinity, his attorney said, because he had intended to go to a shooting range that day. The gun was never found by police, though it was determined that a casing and the bullet found in the tire came from a 9 mm gun.
For the prosecution, assistant state's attorneys Eric Nee and Douglas Wink argued that Solomatin intended to shoot and kill Rickley but missed due to bad aim.
Rickley testified Tuesday that he and his fiancée had returned from the Wal-Mart at Milestone Center in Germantown prior to arriving at the gas station, where he and Solomatin wound up at the same pump. After the argument, Rickley said he pulled into another pump and walked inside to pay for the gas.
“I was in shock,” said Rickley during his testimony Tuesday. "I couldn’t believe he shot at me. I was really hoping he wouldn’t pull the trigger again and hit me."
Rickley said he suffered a bloody nose and a contusion to his thumb. Rolle said Solomatin also suffered a bloody nose during the fight and was reportedly holding his nose with his free hand when he fired the shot.
Judge Rubin said the trial is expected to last three or four days.