Police search for men involved in chase in Arnold and New Kensington

Chuck Biedka
| Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, 5:41 p.m.

Three men are being sought in connection with a high- speed police chase on Friday afternoon in Arnold.

The incident began as officers were responding to a report of a man pointing a shotgun at another man about 3:30 p.m. in the area of 14th Street and Constitution Boulevard.

As police were arriving, a light-colored Dodge Caravan sped away, leading them on a brief chase on the border of Arnold and New Kensington.

The van with five men inside was spotted on Fifth Avenue, then on Locust Street. As a New Kensington police car pulled in behind the van, two of the men jumped from the van. A third man jumped out before the van turned onto Orange Alley, heading toward North Street at high speed, Arnold police Chief Willie Weber said.

The chase ended when the van crashed into a single-car garage on Orange Alley, about 50 feet from North Street. The van hit with enough force to nearly knock down one of the brick-and-concrete walls.

Two men in the van were injured; one, believed to be in his late teens or early 20s, suffered head and other injuries and was flown to a Pittsburgh-area hospital.

While he was wheeled away on a gurney to an ambulance, police asked him to give his identity. The man said he was from Plum.

He was flown to Allegheny General Hospital, while the other man from inside the van was taken by ambulance to UPMC St. Margaret hospital, Weber said.

Officers found a sawed-off shotgun and a handgun in the alley and joined the search that was under way for the three men who jumped out of the van. Weber believes they were injured in jumping from the van, which was reported stolen Monday in McKees Rocks.

About six blocks away, a witness reported seeing one suspect, described as a black man wearing only an olive-green T-shirt and black jeans.

The witness told police the man ran into a house at 320 North St. on the corner of Leishman Avenue. By then, police found where the man had dropped his black and gray hat and coat in a yard at the corner of Orchard and North streets.

Arnold, New Kensington, Lower and Upper Burrell, Tarentum and Brackenridge police, Westmoreland County sheriff's deputies and constables surrounded the two-story house with light blue siding and white trim.

North Street was blocked, and neighbors were told to stay inside.

Police used loudspeakers to order everyone inside to come out with their hands up.

After a tense 10 minutes, a woman came out onto the porch to ask what was going on.She walked over to a sheriff's car parked 10 yards away on Leishman Avenue, then walked back inside. In the next two minutes, nine others — a woman and eight teen-aged boys and girls — came out.

Six officers armed with handguns and rifles searched the house.

After 15 minutes, police determined no fugitive was inside and allowed the residents to return to the home.

“They scared the hell out of me,” said Shelly Jones, who lives in the house with her four children.

“My children had people over. We didn't know what was going on.

“When I looked out, there were cops everywhere,” she said. “There was no one new who came inside the house.”

“I hope they get the people involved, and I hope the two men aren't badly injured,” she said.

Other neighbors declined comment.

Weber said the man likely ran in and out of the house before police arrived.

Police were looking for the three men into Friday evening. They are believed to be black, in their late teens or 20s, but no other description was immediately available.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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