BUCKHANNON – A Buckhannon City Council candidate has been charged with allegedly brandishing a weapon during an argument on Main Street but says he was acting within his right to defend himself.
Matthew Kerner, 53, faces two misdemeanors: brandishing a deadly weapon and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.
According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office filed by Sgt. Tom Posey with the Buckhannon Police Department, Kerner allegedly pointed a handgun at another man after the two got into a verbal altercation on East Main Street on May 4. Kerner told Posey that the other individual had a “closed pocketknife in his hand.”
“After re-holstering the handgun, a few more words were exchanged and the two parted ways,” according to the complaint.
Kerner has two felony convictions from August 2005 in California, one for drug possession and one for a false check, the file says.
In a statement to My Buckhannon, Kerner wrote, “Today I responded to two charges at the Upshur County Magistrates office. The first charge was for brandishing a weapon. I was acting well within my statutory right to self-defense when that happened.
“The second charge was a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. That was based on a conviction in California during my active addiction almost two decades ago,” he wrote. “Part of my plea agreement at the time was that after one year my charges would revert to misdemeanor status. Apparently there has been an administrative error in California that will be cleared up soon. I am confident that both charges will be dismissed as we give the legal process time to work.”
Bail was set at $20,000. If convicted, Kerner faces between 90 days and 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 on each misdemeanor charge.