Police identify teen fatally shot in Garfield

| Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, 6:52 a.m.

Denise Cassell jumped up and down in the stands at Cupples Stadium in the South Side on Friday afternoon cheering for her son, star tackle Ne'Ondre Harbour, as he helped his team defeat Westinghouse in a game that included his first carry at running back.

“When they gave him the ball, I was yelling, ‘That's my baby.' He told me later, ‘Mom, why can I hear you at every game? I heard you above the rest of the crowd,' ” Cassell, 44, said on Monday through tears, hours after finding her son fatally shot in the street near their Garfield home. “He was a very sweet kid. He didn't sell drugs. He didn't smoke. He didn't tote guns. He played sports.”

Police said someone shot Harbour, 16, in the torso about 8:20 p.m. Sunday less than 200 yards from his Kincaid Street home. He died in UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, Oakland.

“When I first heard it, I didn't believe it at all. I was praying it wasn't him,” said Akil Young, 17, of Stanton Heights, senior quarterback from University Prep.

The gunman opened fire after an argument between two women and shot up a row house on North Aiken Street, investigators said, but Harbour was not involved in the altercation and was walking nearby when he was hit.

“It's sad when something minor can take someone's life, especially if that person's not involved,” Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said.

A second man was shot in the thigh and buttocks less than 12 hours later, a half-block from where Harbour was hit. Police expect Monday's victim to survive.

Stangrecki said that shooting likely was related to Sunday's argument. He declined to release the victim's name, but neighbors said he lived two doors away from the home targeted on Sunday.

Michal Stowers said he pounded on her front door when he was shot. “He's screaming, ‘I don't want to die. They shot me. I'm bleeding out,' ” she said. “This is crazy. My kids are in the house.”

Cassell said her son intended to visit a cousin who lives on North Aiken. When she heard shots, she jumped in her car and drove to the scene. She later found her son collapsed on Kincaid Street.

“I just started CPR, but I couldn't save him,” Cassell said. “If you wanted a teenager, he'd be the one you wanted. He was always smiling.”

Harbour was a junior at Obama Academy, which plays on a USO football team — a merged team of students from University Prep, Obama and Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy. He was a star wrestler and threw the shot for the track and field team.

“He was the best kid you could ever hope to coach. He had Division I talent. Everything out of his mouth was, ‘Yes sir, no sir.' This kid had honors. He was a beast on the football field. You couldn't block him. He was a great kid,” USO assistant coach LaRoi Johnson said.

Johnson said he let Harbour run the ball on Friday night.

“It was his first-ever carry. He kept telling me, ‘Coach, let me run the ball. I'll pick up some yards.' He picked up 8 or 9 yards,” Johnson said. “Everybody is just in shock. The kids keep saying, ‘This is like a dream.' ”

Pittsburgh Public Schools postponed a junior varsity football game between USO and Westinghouse and provided grief counselors for students and staff.

Staff at Obama described Harbour as a “gentle giant.”

Staff writer Kevin Gorman contributed to this report. Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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