Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Columbia Woman Shot and Killed; Assailant Dies Later

A Knowlton woman was shot and killed in her home Monday evening by an East Stroudsburg man who himself later died of an apparent medical emergency while being taken into custody. 

Cheryl Schilling, 58, of the Columbia section of Knowlton, died after the shooting in her Columbia Street house, where police responded at approximately 7:49 p.m. on February 12.

According to the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office, the alleged assailant, Armond Anthony Avitable, 38, was involved in a domestic dispute earlier in the day with a female at his Club House Drive residence in East Stroudsburg. As a result, Avitable was ordered to leave the residence. He then called Kevin Schilling, Cheryl Schilling’s husband, who picked him up in East Stroudsburg and drove him back to the Schillings’ Columbia home. 

Shortly after arriving at the Columbia Street home about 6 p.m., a dispute developed between the Schillings and Avitable, Warren County Prosecutor James Pfeiffer said. Avitable became agitated and aggressive and retrieved a pump action shotgun from the downstairs area of the home, Pfeiffer said. 

He then fired a shot from downstairs as the Schillings retreated to an upstairs bedroom and closed the door. Avitable followed them upstairs to the bedroom. He opened the door and fired two shots. 

Cheryl Schilling was struck in her arm and upper left torso, Pfeiffer said.

Avitable fled the Columbia Street house into the backyard where he encountered several neighbors who were sitting around an outdoor fire. 

According to the prosecutor’s office, Avitable then began to explain to them that he “had to shoot her” because Kevin Schilling “was coming for him.” 

Avitable then fired two additional shot gun blasts at the Schillings’ house. He left the gun on the neighbor’s property and fled the area. 

Police were contacted and shortly afterward a Nixle alert was issued warning residents to shelter in place and to lock all doors and windows. The alert prompted the Knowlton Township Committee to delay its meeting, which was taking place in the nearby municipal building. Residents across the river in Portland were also told to lock down and roads in the area were blocked.

New Jersey State Police responding to the scene located Avitable a short distance away near the intersection of Interstate 80 and State Highway Route 46. 

While being taken into custody, Avitable engaged the New Jersey State Troopers in a physical altercation, Pfeiffer said. He was subdued and taken into custody when he developed a medical emergency. CPR and medical aid were rendered, Pfeiffer said, and Avitable was transported to Lehigh Valley, Pocono Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at approximately 9:01 p.m.  

Medical aid was provided to Cheryl Schilling at the scene; however, she died from her injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 8:28 p.m. 

Her death was ruled a homicide by Di Wang, M.D. of the Morris County Medical Examiner’s Office as a result of a gunshot wound to the torso. 

Pfeiffer said the investigation is continuing and anyone with information is asked to call the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office at 908-475-6275.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.