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Homestead police unraveling reports of kidnapping, assault, gun fight

| Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, 4:47 a.m.
Authorites, including Allegheny County SWAT and local police, gather on McClure Street in Homestead before surrounding an apartment building in the 300 block of E. ninth Avenue in search of suspects in an alleged attempt at kidnapping. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
In a Homestead police car, authorities question someone who was escorted from an apartment at 331 E. Ninth Ave. in their search for suspects in an alleged attempt at kidnapping Thursday afternoon. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Police circled the 300 block of E. Ninth Avenue in Homestead in search of suspects involved in an alleged attempt at kidnapping Thursday afternoon. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Homestead resident Patty Karhut shares her experience of Thursday's evacuation from an E. Ninth Avenue apartment building, where authorities searched for suspects in an alleged attempt at kidnapping. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News

Homestead and Allegheny County police are investigating a reported kidnapping, a gun battle and an assault that unfolded in a strange series of events on Thursday.

“It's a pretty helter-skelter story and we have not sorted it out yet,” Homestead police Chief Jeff DeSimone said.

Homestead police received a call at approximately 1:40 p.m. about a possible kidnapping in the 1400 block of Sarah Street, DeSimone said.

The mother of a 16-year-old Homestead boy told police that an acquaintance had phoned to tell her that her son was missing.

DeSimone said the boy turned up at a home along W. Fifteenth Avenue appearing beaten and without shoes later Thursday afternoon, and was taken to a Pittsburgh hospital for surgery.

The chief said the teen's mother usually sends him to school at 8 a.m.

“She called the school and he had not gone to school,” he said.

At the time, police still were investigating the report of a kidnapping on Sarah Street, and found at least 10 casings from an apparent gun battle with two shooters, DeSimone said.

He said police started looking for casings when someone reported their vehicle had been hit by gunfire while police were on the scene speaking with the mother of the missing boy.

“We recovered multiple casings at two ends of the street, which indicated that there were at least two shooters shooting in opposite directions,” DeSimone said.

He said the vehicle struck by gunfire had two occupants.

“One was a family friend,” he said. “The other allegedly was the boy's father, who was no longer on scene.”

The chief said there are unconfirmed reports of a dispute over a weapon being returned to the people who abducted the teen, or of them being reimbursed for the firearm.

DeSimone said the FBI's Pittsburgh office called Homestead police in regard to the location of possible suspects and the missing boy at an apartment complex at 331 Ninth Ave.

That complex quickly was surrounded by a SWAT team, hostage negotiators and law enforcement personnel from Allegheny County and nearby communities.

Tyler Karhut, a resident of the adjoining apartment building, said he heard sirens and saw police surround the street at approximately 2:15 p.m.

“We opened up the door to see what was going on and the cop told us to go back in the house where there are no windows and lock the door,” he said. “We locked the door and went into the back room and then the cop knocked on our door to ask us if we had a key to open up the basement. My mom went down and let them in the basement. They searched our apartment and the basement. Then they said we all had to get out.”

The majority of law enforcement units left the scene around 5:50 p.m.

DeSimone said the building was canvassed and some people were detained, but it is unclear if any charges will be filed. He said investigators found blood and signs of an assault in the building's basement.

DeSimone said police still don't have many details about the juvenile.

He said Allegheny County police are taking over the investigation.

DeSimone said Allegheny County Sheriff's deputies arrested one person at the scene on a warrant unrelated to the case.

Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or

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