Police Shoot, Kill 15-Year-Old After Failed Robbery Attempt
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via YellowBrix
September 28, 2010
PITTSBURGH – The death of a 15-year-old boy in a shootout yesterday with two city police officers in Northview Heights was a tragedy for everyone involved, Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper said.
“Anytime a life is taken, it’s a tragedy,” Harper said. “It’s a shame the actor didn’t drop his weapon.”
The teen, who was identified by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office as Jerome Williams, was one of three young gunmen involved in a home invasion in the 700 block of Mt. Pleasant Road, Harper said. The trio might be tied to an attempted carjacking three hours earlier, he said.
The shootout occurred about 2:45 p.m. in a wooded area between Penfort and Lamar streets, about a block away from the Mt. Pleasant Road home where the break-in took place, Harper said.
The victim of the home invasion made a 911 call saying that three young men — including Williams — were inside with weapons, Harper said.
As officers were driving up, they began chasing two or three young men they saw fleeing the home.
Two uniformed officers — a nine-year veteran and a two-year veteran whom Harper would not identify — followed Williams to the edge of the woods, where they got out of their marked patrol car and ordered him to drop the .357 Magnum handgun he was carrying, the chief said.
“The officers did see his weapon. They ordered him to drop the weapon, at which time (Williams) opened fire,” Harper said.
Witnesses reported hearing at least a dozen shots. Williams fell, mortally wounded, with at least one gunshot wound in the head, the chief said.
The two policemen were not injured but were offered counseling for the emotional toll the shooting has had on them, Harper said.
The chief said city homicide detectives have interviewed witnesses who heard the officers order Williams to drop his gun.
“The proper action was taken (by the officers),” Harper said.
A resident of Penfort Street, Ernest Johnson, heard the gunshots.
“The first two shots I heard were not fired from a police revolver,” Johnson said. “I was in Vietnam. I know the different sounds. I heard in total about 12 shots. By the time I ran outside, there were other police officers running up there.”
Darlene Daniel said she and her neighbors ran into their homes when the shooting started.
“There were over 20 shots. We didn’t know where they were coming from,” Daniel said. “It was ‘pow, pow’ and then more like an automatic weapon, ‘doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot.’ Whoever it was had a lot of rounds.”
Harper said the victim of the home invasion knew Williams and one of the other gunmen from the neighborhood. A warrant was being secured for his arrest, the chief said.
Detectives are using video surveillance cameras in the neighborhood in an attempt to identify the third gunman.
“Why they chose this woman’s home, we don’t know at this time,” Harper said.
Williams and the other two young men match the descriptions of those involved in the attempted carjacking of a jitney driver that was reported at 11:50 a.m. in the 300 block of Penfort, Harper said.
Those who walk home from the Pittsburgh Northview PreK-8 school about a mile away were kept past afternoon dismissal until police said it was safe for them to go home, Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said. Those who ride buses left at the normal time, she said.
The 15-year-old’s mother, Kisha Adams, rushed to the scene with friends after the shooting. She was too distraught to talk to reporters.
Barbara Paillett lives on Penfort Street about 50 yards from where Williams died and near the house in the 100 block of Penfort where 5-year-old Jaylon Johnson-Floyd was shot and killed Sept. 26, 2009.
“Do we feel protected up here?” asked Paillett, the mother of a young girl. “No, we don’t.”
No one has been arrested in the slaying of Johnson-Floyd, who was sleeping on a love seat when he was shot by one or two intruders who broke in through a basement door, city police said.
Johnson still shudders at the horror he witnessed that night.
“I saw the aunt come out with the kid in her arms,” Johnson said. “You can’t imagine watching a kid breath his last breath.”
Harper said Northview Heights “is not really a high-crime area.”
But, Johnson said, “we’re used to hearing gunshots up here. It’s like we live in Baghdad.”
Johnson blames the crime on young men who are seduced by the thought of making easy money by selling drugs instead of working hard for a good education.
“Lord, I hope I can make it through,” Johnson said. “I hope we can educate and help this lost generation.”