Retaliation suspected as shots fired into homes
With shots fired into three Clairton homes early Friday morning, initial speculation from victims and authorities had police on the lookout for a city man recently acquitted of murder charges.
Clairton police were dispatched to 194 Baker Ave. at 3:14 a.m. after nearly 20 bullets broke windows and pierced the siding of a duplex, the other half of which had been hit within the past month. Shortly thereafter, shots rang out in the 500 block of Halcomb Avenue, in the area of Park Avenue and Ridge Street, at 642 Waddell Ave. and at 312 Boundary Ave.
“This all happened within 17 minutes,” Clairton Sgt. Keith Zenkovich said. “When we got down to Baker Avenue, we heard additional shots fired in the area, and that's when more calls started coming in.”
As neighboring police units came in to assist Clairton, reports cautioned officers in the area that Lindsey Wright could be a person of interest.
“We feel that it is retaliation for a past homicide,” Clairton police Chief Rob Hoffman confirmed later Friday morning. “We turned it over to Allegheny County, and the county is investigating it.”
Wright, 32, of Clairton, was acquitted Sept. 20 in the fatal shooting of Tauvea Hurt on Jan. 1, 2011. His brother Keith Wright, 26, was convicted of second-degree murder, burglary and criminal conspiracy.
Hurt was shot just after midnight at a New Year's Eve party along Lincoln Avenue, making him the first homicide victim in Allegheny County in 2011. One of the homes targeted in Friday's shooting spree was that of his mother Tera Smith.
“The police came in to find bullets in the walls, bullets through the pictures, bullets in the middle of my TV,” said Smith, with a .40- or .45-caliber bullet hole obstructing her view as the Clairton Bears won their 60th consecutive game to take the WPIAL Class A championship. “The front window is gone, shattered.”
Six people were asleep in Smith's home when the shots were fired. Her brother and cousin awoke as bullets came through the window above where they slept on a sectional sofa that lines two walls in the living room.
“It was overwhelming,” she said, looking at her napping 10-month-old grandson who lay on the sofa inches below where bullets passed earlier. “I don't think whoever did it cared. They know I have grandkids. I have 10. It's always possible that someone is here.”
Regardless of whether Friday's gunshots were fired in retaliation to the court proceedings that followed Hurt's murder, Smith said, she is not afraid to be in the home where she has lived for six years.
“I'm scared for when (the children) are here, but for me, no,” she said. “I'm not scared for myself.”
Smith believes Friday's shots were “meant to kill.”
With what would have been Hurt's 22nd birthday just around the corner, Smith said the holidays are hard enough without violent threats encroaching on her family's peace.
Anyone with information regarding the gunfire is asked to contact Clairton or Allegheny County police. Allegheny County police did not return calls by presstime.
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.