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Attorney says client acted in self-defense in Penn Hills teen's death

Michael DiVittorio
| Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 1:09 p.m.
Photo of Deven Holloway posted on Facebook by Yvonne Smith, who wrote: 'R.I.P Nephew, Deven Holloway! May your soul be at peace.'
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Photo of Deven Holloway posted on Facebook by Yvonne Smith, who wrote: 'R.I.P Nephew, Deven Holloway! May your soul be at peace.'
Balloons were released at a vigil for Deven Holloway, 16, of Penn Hills, who was killed Tuesday afternoon near Linton Middle School. The vigil held as a memorial for the student took place outside the school on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Balloons were released at a vigil for Deven Holloway, 16, of Penn Hills, who was killed Tuesday afternoon near Linton Middle School. The vigil held as a memorial for the student took place outside the school on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.

A 22-year-old Plum man questioned by police in connection with Tuesday's fatal shooting outside of a Penn Hills school acted in self-defense after being attacked when he went to play in a pick-up basketball game, the man's attorney said.

Attorney Phil DiLucente would not identify his client, but said the man went to the Allegheny County police after the shooting, was interviewed and released.

“He had gone to the school for that only purpose, to play basketball. All he knows is that he was attacked,” DiLucente said. “Someone had used a weapon on him to hit him and he, when attacked, defended himself ... he did fire his weapon.”

Deven Holloway, 16, of Penn Hills was found shot to death in a playground near Linton Middle School on Aster Street when police responded to a 911 call at about 4:30 p.m. The shooting happened after school was dismissed.

“The individual was pronounced dead on the scene by our paramedics,” Penn Hills police Chief Howard Burton said.

The Allegheny County medical examiner on Wednesday ruled the death a homicide caused by multiple gunshots to the head and body.

DiLucente said his client had a registered weapon that he was licensed to carry. Police have not identified the owner of a handgun that was found near Holloway's body, Burton said.

“He cooperated to the extent he could and he was released early this morning,” said DiLucente. “My client's going to continue to cooperate to the extent possible. This is a very fast-moving and fluid situation.”

Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough declined to detail the investigation so far.

“We have talked to a number of people involved,” McDonough said. “I can't get into some details on some statements at this point. We've identified everyone we believe to have been involved in this incident at this point. I wouldn't characterize any of them as suspects.”

He said detectives are working to corroborate reports and witness statements. He said investigators will consult with Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala's office to see if charges will be filed once the investigation is complete.

DiLucente said his client was not a suspect, but a “person of interest” in this case, and willingly went to county police headquarters to be questioned.

The Plum man suffered head injuries, treated himself at home and “is very traumatized over this whole situation,” DiLucente said.

Several people at the scene said they'd heard three to five gunshots, but none said they witnessed the shooting.

According to Burton, this is the first time there has been a school shooting in Penn Hills.

The district canceled Wednesday's classes at all three of its schools. It will offer grief counseling for students and staff for as long as needed, officials said.

A vigil for Holloway is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the middle school.

County police homicide investigators have asked anyone who heard or saw anything related to the shooting to call 412-473-3000. Callers may remain anonymous.

Tribune-Review staff writer Samson X Horne contributed to this story. Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367 or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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