Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/14/11
Gerald Ung took the stand in his own defense today, explaining how and why he shot former lacrosse standout Eddie DiDonato six times last January 17 in Philadelphia’s Old City section.
The 29-year-old Ung was soft-spoken and near tears at one point. He testified that he fired the gun only because DiDonato grabbed his leg following a brief altercation between two groups of friends at Fourth and Market streets.
“I pointed the gun at Tom (Kelly) and screamed, ‘Back the bleep up,’” Ung testified. “I wanted him to back up; I didn’t want to shoot him.
”Eddie just kept coming. He said, ‘Who you gonna shoot?’ I tried kicking him away and he grabbed my right leg. I started to fall backwards … I hadn’t fired yet.
”As I began to fall back, I remember seeing sparks and hearing pops. I pulled the trigger. I didn’t know at the time it was five or six bullets.
“He just kept coming at me. I called 9-1-1 I didn’t want him to die I didn’t want to shoot him I didn’t want to shoot anyone. I wanted to make sure the ambulance got there.”
DiDonato, 24, of Blue Bell, a standout at La Salle College High and Villanova University, was critically injured in the shooting.
After Ung’s testimony, closing arguments were heard. On Tuesday the jury will begin deliberations.
Ung, 29, of Fairfax Va., was a third-year law student at Temple when the shooting occurred, He said he worked as an IT consultant for Freddie Mac before entering law school in August of 2006.
He said he had a license to carry from Virginia and bought his semi-automatic pistol online.
Ung testified that prior to the shooting he and friends went to two nightclubs and that he had consumed five beers and one shot. As they were making their way back to Ung’s residence to eat pizza that they had bought at Soho pizza, they were walking up Market street between Third and Fourth streets.
It was then at a scaffolding that his group ran into DiDonato and his three friends.
“I saw the group of guys and I saw Joy jumping up to the scaffolding and a guy kicked out at her,” Ung testified. “I said, ‘Joy let’s go’. I got 10 to 15 feet … I heard someone screaming … hey, hey I’ll touch her if I want, bleep.’
“I said, ‘Seriously, dude.’
”We began to walk backwards away from them. They kept coming at us; kept screaming. Tom kept coming at my back I just remember him screaming and Joy screaming. Tom was coming at me; he was right up on Joy.
“This guy was attacking Joy. I remember her pleading with him. He said, ‘I’ll bleeping kill you!’
” I walked away. I thought I saw Tom was reaching for something a gun or knife. I thought this guy was going to attack us again. We continued to walk away.”
After the shooting, Ung immediately called 9-1-1. “ I didn’t want him (DiDonato) to die,” he testified “I didn’t want to shoot him, I didn’t want to shoot anyone.”
“I was screaming into the phone, ‘He’s shot, he’s shot!’
“’He attacked me, he attacked me. I had to shoot him. A man is shot I need an ambulance please hurry please hurry.”
On cross examination from Assistant District Attorney Jan McDermott, Ung said he always took his loaded gun with him when he went out drinking. He said he never saw a weapon on DiDonato or his friends.
She said that it was his duty to retreat or possibly call 9-1-1 if he was threatened, but that he didn’t. She questioned him about having other options and talked about him having his hand in his pocket where the loaded semi-automatic was placed, from the start.
”I know I pulled out my gun at Thomas and he froze in his tracks,” Ung testified. “Then I pointed it at Eddie. It was like being in a movie I was in a daze.”
McDermott asked,, “You thought you may have killed a man?” Ung responded, “Yes”.
McDermott then went through the video frame by frame and asked Ung if DiDonato was physically assaulting him at any time. He said he was never touched.
McDermott then stated, “You never fired a warning shot or shot at his arms or legs just at his chest and abdomen?
Ung replied: “He just kept coming”
McDermott asked, “After the first shot, the second shot, the third shot? She continued, “The fourth shot … the fifth shot … the sixth shot?”
Ung replied, “I didn’t know if I had struck him or not.”
The defense rested after Ung’s testimony.