MERCER, Pa. — A Pennsylvania man who identifies as a woman has pleaded guilty to attempted murder after shooting his coworker in 2016 when he allegedly continued taunting him about his plans to present himself as female.
Zachary McClimans, 23, who goes by the name Claire, was arrested in November 2016 after shooting Jayson Hall, 42, inside the Hermitage Walmart. Hall was struck at least twice by bullets, but survived.
McClimans said that he had turned Hall into management for allegedly making threats, but one day as he heard Hall making another remark, he took the matter into his own hands and went to his grandparents’ house to obtain a pistol.
The Meadville Tribune reports that McClimans planned to kill Hall after work, but “felt so strongly about shooting Hall that he could not wait” and tracked him down in the store that night and began firing.
“McClimans stated that he aimed at the torso of Hall with the intent of killing him,” a police affidavit outlines. “McClimans stated that after he shot Hall that he followed him back into the storage area of the store to make sure that he could see him fall and that he would not bother him at work anymore.”
He then walked to his car, intending to leave, but police quickly arrived and took McClimans into custody after witnesses pointed him out. McClimans was charged with attempted first-degree murder, attempted third-degree murder, aggravated assault, theft, carrying a firearm without a license and reckless endangerment.
“[McClimans] said, ‘I wanted him dead.’ … [He] kept shooting until the gun was empty,” police investigator John Miller testified.
Last year, McClimans attorney advised that a mental illness defense would be brought forth on McClimans’ behalf. Legal proceedings had been delayed as there was ongoing conversation between the prosecution and defense as to whether or not McClimans met the criteria for an insanity plea. He underwent an evaluation, but the results have not been made known.
“The commonwealth has been ready to proceed,” said defense attorney Ryan Mergl, according to The Sharon Herald. “But we’ve had to work with a team of mental health professionals to cover all the angles. The delays have been caused primarily in exploring those channels and making sure [McClimans] was cognizant of [his] actions.”
On Monday, after a plea agreement was accepted, McClimans pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted murder. He faces a minimum of 7 to 20 years behind bars. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
Anglican preacher J.C. Ryle once said, “Grief over the sins of others is one leading evidence of true grace. The person who is really converted will always regard the unconverted with pity and concern.”
“This was the mind of David—’I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved’ (Psalm 119:158). This was the mind of the godly in the days of Ezekiel—’They sighed and cried for the abominations done in the land.’ (Ezek. 9:4). This was the mind of Lot—’He vexed his righteous soul with the unlawful deeds’ of those around him (2 Peter 2:8). This was the mind of Paul—’I have great heaviness and continual sorrow for my brethren’ (Rom. 9:2). In all these cases we see something of the mind of Christ. As the great Head feels, so feel the members. They all grieve when they see sin.”