Attorney targeted in Chester Co. home invasion, shooting

PENNSBURY TWP., Pa. - September 25, 2012

And the Chester County District Attorney says residents in this area have nothing to fear.

Thomas Hogan says the victim was a definite target, and detectives are chasing down promising leads.

"This was not a random attack. This was a crew of criminals who specifically targeted this victim. Our job now is to find out who and why," said Hogan.

Sources say 63-year-old Fred Barakat was home alone when he noticed a strange car in the driveway. Three men got out, two of them wearing Halloween masks.

Barakat struggled with the men, who hit him over the head and shot him in the knee. Sources say they then walked him from room to room, looking for specific items. They later tied him up and left.

Neighbors heard his screams for help and called police.

"We have a horse and sheep farm, and my boarder heard, she assumed, someone in the woods calling for help. And she ran down to the edge of the woods to try and call in and see who it was and if they needed help," explains neighbor Judy Wilson.

"It's horrible, it's horrible," said resident Veronica Mahaffy. "And this is in this neighborhood. You'd think you'd be safe in this neighborhood."

The homes here are far apart, and Barakat lives down a private lane. But investigators say he wasn't targeted because the house is isolated and not visible from the road.

They suspect two of the attackers wore masks because he might recognize them. The third is a six-foot-tall white man with short blond hair, about 30 to 40 years old.

Barakat is a prominent lawyer with an office in Wilmington. He specializes mostly in bankruptcy cases.

Investigators say there's a common thread in most home invasion cases.

"Whether the victim realizes it or not, a lot of time there is a connection between the victim and the bad guys. Our job now is to track down what that connection is and find the bad guys," said Hogan.

Residents of the neighborhood have been rattled, even though police are sure this was not a random attack.

"We're very concerned. Most of us have alarm systems and for those of us that weren't using them before, we are now," resident Bob Rosenberg said.

"I'm armed. That's all I can say," said Mahaffy. "I would hate to shoot somebody. But if I had to, I'd hope the police would be there before I needed to do that."

The attackers haven't been spotted yet. They drove off in a white or cream colored Mitsubishi Diamante that was spotted by the victim and by other witnesses.

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