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Police arrest 2 Monessen residents after shooting incident; 3 more sought

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 12:22 a.m.
Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held and Deputy Sheriff Kellie Jezewski, escorts suspect Earl Pinkney, into the Monessen Police station. Pinkney was picked up on a warrant sweep in Monessen,onTuesday 12-05-12. Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Eric Schmadel
Monessen basketball player Samone Stepoli photographed on March 28, 2009 in Greensburg. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

Two Monessen residents were sent to prison Tuesday on charges stemming from a Monday afternoon shooting incident that police say happened over an earlier homicide in the city.

Monessen police and the Westmoreland County Sheriff's office arrested Earl Pinkney, 18, of McMahon Ave. around 11 a.m. while Samone Stepoli, 21, of Grand Boulevard turned herself in late in the afternoon.

Three other suspects were still at large as of Tuesday evening: Antoine “Tweezy” Hairston, 19; Josh Stepoli, 18; and Terrence Stepoli, 20, all of Monessen.

All five suspects are charged with felony counts of criminal attempt — criminal homicide, criminal attempt — aggravated assault, conspiracy — criminal homicide and conspiracy — aggravated assault.

The charges stem from an alleged shooting around 4 p.m. Monday at Highland Manor, a housing project in Monessen. According to the affidavit of probable cause, the five confronted and fired several shots at Jaisen Irwin, no address available, of Monessen.

Irwin told police he was sitting outside the Elks Club on Knox Avenue when a blue car, possibly a Ford Taurus, driven by Samone Stepoli pulled up. Irwin said Terrence Stepoli got out of the car and walked toward him, accusing him of telling people he and the others were involved in Monday's murder of Chris “Snax” Fincik.

Fincik, 36, was shot multiple times and killed at 12:25 a.m. Monday while answering the back door at his 902 Maple Ave. residence. No charges have been filed in Fincik's death.

Irwin told police Stepoli tried to slap him in the face before three others, identified as Pinkney, Hairston and Josh Stepoli, got out of the car and eventually chased Irwin down concrete steps, called the “office building stairs” to Highland Manor. That's when Irwin said he saw a beam — supposedly from a gun sight — shining on a staircase pillar. Irwin then said he heard a gunshot.

Irwin told police he ducked inside an apartment when he heard a second shot and closed the door. He then looked out an upstairs window and saw three people flee the scene.

Monessen patrolman David Winkler, who responded to the incident, found a semi-automatic .45 caliber handgun with a laser sight approximately 300 feet south of the steps, police said.

The Stepoli brothers — both former standout basketball players for Monessen High School and Greensburg Central Catholic — were recently sentenced for an April incident in Charleroi. During a traffic stop, police found a stolen handgun under Terrence Stepoli's seat and another in Joshua Stepoli's pocket.

Three teams of armed officers made three arrests Tuesday morning of Pinkney and an unidentified male and female without incident. The male and female were both questioned and later released.

Pinkney and Samone Stepoli were both arraigned Tuesday evening in front of Magisterial District Justice Joseph Dalfonso, who re-opened his office so the arraignments did not have to go to night court.

Pinkney was sent to Westmoreland County Jail in Hempfield Township after he was unable to post the $100,000 cash bond. Likewise, Stepoli was sent to the jail when she did not post a $10,000 cash bond.

Both suspects have preliminary hearings scheduled at 11 a.m. Dec. 14 in front of Dalfonso.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2635.