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Police: Man fatally shot by Pittsburgh cops fired first

Megan Guza
| Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, 1:45 p.m.

A man fatally shot by Pittsburgh police allegedly ambushed the officers while they were on a foot patrol in Pittsburgh's Homewood neighborhood early Sunday, according to authorities investigating the shooting.

Officers performed CPR on 39-year-old suspect Mark Daniels after shooting him, keeping him alive long enough for paramedics to take him to UPMC Presbyterian, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. Daniels was pronounced dead at the hospital at 2 a.m.

“They did everything they could to resuscitate (Daniels),” Hissrich said. “We came very close to losing a police officer (Sunday) morning. We were very lucky. It's a traumatic experience for both the family and the police officers that were involved in the incident.”

Hissrich said that when he and Pittsburgh Chief Scott Schubert arrived at the scene early Sunday, some officers were covered in Daniels's blood.

Allegheny County Police are investigating. On Monday afternoon, they released a timeline of the events related to the shooting. County police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said investigators used surveillance video, ShotSpotter audio analysis, 911 radio transmissions, witness statements and evidence at the scene to establish the timeline.

None of the officers involved was wearing a body camera. Pittsburgh police officials have not identified the officers involved.

According to details released by McDonough:

Two city officers parked their patrol car between Frankstown Avenue and Bennett Street at about 1:11 a.m. Sunday to begin a foot patrol of the neighborhood.

The officers saw a man in a blue jacket and black-rimmed hat leave Bett's Market and walk south on Brushton Avenue. When the man saw police, “his subsequent behavior drew the officers' attention to the man,” McDonough said. He did not elaborate on what the officers found suspicious about the man's behavior.

The officers walked south on Newman Way, parallel to the man on Brushton.

At 1:19 a.m., a man in a dark blue jacket later identified as Daniels emerged from behind a building near the corner of Bennett and Newman and fired at the officers. One officer returned fire, and both officers chased him.

One minute later, officers spotted Daniels on Bennett Street, and the same officer fired again. Daniels took off west across Brushton.

At 1:24 a.m., officers and a police K-9 began following a trail of blood. Three minutes later, they found Daniels bleeding behind a home on Bennett Street, and officers began CPR. Medics arrived at 1:34 a.m. and transported Daniels to UPMC Presbyterian, where he was pronounced dead less than a half-hour later.

McDonough said in the statement that investigators recovered a .40-caliber semiautomatic Glock pistol at the scene. It will be tested by the county crime lab.

Family members told Tribune-Review news partner WPXI-TV they were frustrated by a lack of information. They told the TV station they suspected a cover-up.

Mayor Bill Peduto said he has heard the family's concerns. He stressed that the investigation into the shooting will not be handled by Pittsburgh police.

“There's already an independent investigation that's being done … looking at the entire incident and all of the concerns that the family has brought up,” he said. “That will not be done internally.”

Schubert said his department will cooperate fully with county police.

“Any time a life is lost … it's something that is traumatic for the whole community,” he said. “We also look for the officers who were shot at for their well-being. It's a traumatic experience for them as well.”

Bob Bauder contributed. Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

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