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Suspect who shot Pittsburgh police officer has long criminal history

| Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 6:52 a.m.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper shows the bulletproof vest worn by Officer Andrew Baker, who survived a shooting that happened Friday morning, Oct. 12, 2012, on Millerdale Street in Stanton Heights. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh police officer Andrew Baker was saved by his bullet-proof vest after being shot by Tiant Mitchell , 25, early Friday morning in Stanton Heights.
Tiant Mitchell is accused of shooting Pittsburgh police Officer Andrew Baker during a domestic incident in Stanton Heights on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012.
Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper shows the bulletproof vest worn by Officer Andrew Baker, who survived a shooting that happened Friday morning, Oct. 12, 2012, on Millerdale Street in Stanton Heights. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh police were on the scene of an officer-involved shooting that happened Friday morning, Oct. 12, 2012 on Millerdale Street in Stanton Heights. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh police were on the scene of an officer-involved shooting that happened Friday morning, Oct. 12, 2012, on Millerdale Street in Stanton Heights. James Knox | Tribune-Review

Tiant Mitchell told his wife early Friday in Stanton Heights that he wanted to shoot a cop, Pittsburgh police said.

Shawnece Moore, 36, pleaded with him to leave their home on Millerdale Street after he pointed a gun at her and her 1-year-old child, and he agreed to leave with her, walking down the street to get cigarettes just before 5 a.m., police Chief Nate Harper said.

Mitchell, 25, fired three shots in the air, and when Officer Andrew Baker responded to a call about gunshots, Mitchell began firing his 9 mm handgun before Baker could even get out of his car, Harper said.

Baker's bullet-proof vest stopped a bullet from hitting his chest. He returned fire, striking Mitchell and Moore.

“By the grace of God, he was wearing a vest,” Harper said.

It was one of three officer-involved shootings on Friday. A Westmoreland County man fired 17 shots at troopers, the last shortly after 1 a.m., after a domestic dispute at his Hempfield house. Four New Castle police officers are on leave after critically wounding an armed man in an early morning gunbattle.

Doctors at UPMC Mercy evaluated and released Baker, 27, an officer for five years, a short time after the shooting. Harper placed him on administrative leave.

Moore suffered a wound in the hand, and a bullet hit Mitchell in the buttocks, Harper said. Neither injury was life-threatening.

Four bullets struck Baker's vehicle. He fired back from behind the car door.

“This officer did everything very well,” Harper said.

Mitchell has tattoos that indicate an affiliation with the Crips, police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said. He wears blue clothing and flashes the gang's hand signs in photos.

Mitchell's relatives could not be reached.

“He has quite a lengthy history of criminal activity,” Harper said.

Police charged Mitchell with reckless endangerment, attempted homicide of a police officer, aggravated assault, illegal possession of a firearm, endangering the welfare of a child and simple assault.

Moore, who could not be reached for comment, described her yearlong marriage to Mitchell as turbulent in a criminal complaint. She told officers that her husband has bipolar disorder.

The pair went to Levelz Bar in the South Side on Thursday night, and an argument escalated when they got home, police said.

In May, Moore told police that the two were arguing when Mitchell grabbed her by the throat, threatening to kill her with a knife. Though she ran and called police, investigators described her as evasive when they questioned her. Charges of assault and terroristic threats against Mitchell were withdrawn.

Harper said Moore suffered a broken ankle in another altercation with Mitchell, though he didn't say when that happened. Police told Moore that she could request a court-ordered protection from abuse, but court records do not indicate she obtained one.

In November 2006, Penn Hills police arrested Mitchell and charged him with aggravated assault, carrying a firearm without a license, receiving stolen property and recklessly endangering another person. Mitchell spent nearly two years in jail before pleading guilty to the charges and was sentenced to two to four years of probation.

In November 2009, Braddock police arrested Mitchell on drug charges and accused him of resisting arrest. Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen sentenced him to 23 days in jail and one year of probation.

Staff writer Adam Brandolphcontributed to this report. Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com.

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