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Gunfire erupts in Monessen neighborhood, witness chases suspect

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Sunday, May 4, 2014, 1:57 a.m.

Gunfire erupted in a Monessen neighborhood Saturday afternoon, and witnesses are being credited for helping track down a suspect.

Monessen police Chief John Mandarino said investigators received numerous calls from residents reporting that a black male began firing shots about 4:30 p.m. outside 6 Knox Ave.

“All we have are rumors at this point, but all the information is leading to it being drug related,” Mandarino said.

Once police arrived at the scene, several witnesses described the shooter and what they saw.

“It was a typical day, there were people outside, kids playing in the neighborhood,” Mandarino said.

One witness reportedly told police the shooter pointed the gun at him before the suspect started running west on Knox Avenue.

Another man told police he chased the suspect but lost sight of him after the gunman ran into an alley between Knox and Linden avenues.

A third witness told Lt. Carl Fronzaglio the suspect was seen running into a house at 518 Second St.

Police aren't identifying the witnesses.

When Fronzaglio entered the house, he was met by Cordaro Jackson, who was “very confrontational,” with him, police said.

A search of the house, revealed James “Boozy” Womack hiding in an upstairs closet, police said. Fronzaglio said he saw $11,850 “in plain view” on a closet shelf.

Police obtained a warrant from Magisterial District Judge Joseph Dalfonso of Monessen to search Jackson's residence.

Mandarino said a Kahr 9 mm handgun was found inside a black backpack under a car parked in front of Jackson's residence. Police said witnesses reported seeing the suspect in possession of a black backpack.

Police said they found a loaded Taurus .38 Special revolver in Jackson's house. A loaded 9 mm Ruger handgun was found in a garbage can, police said.

Lt. James Smith said five shell casings were recovered at the Knox Avenue shooting scene.

Smith said three bullet holes were found in Cindy Medvec's car, which was parked at 4 Knox Ave.

A bullet hit Angela Fleming's house at 6 Knox Ave. below a front window.

No injuries were reported. The Westmoreland County Task Force and officers from Charleroi Regional and North Belle Vernon assisted Monessen police.

Monessen police continued their investigation into the shooting through the night.

Jackson, 25, was charged with two felony counts of possession of a firearm prohibited and misdemeanor counts of receiving stolen property and hindering apprehension.

He was arraigned Sunday morning by Magisterial District Judge Joseph R. DeMarchis of Jeannette, who sent him to the Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $25,000 straight cash bond.

Jackson faces a preliminary hearing 10 a.m. May 16 before Dalfonso.

Womack, 22, of 220 Knox Ave., Monessen, was arrested on a bench warrant for failure to appear for a preliminary hearing Friday before Dalfonso on numerous drug charges from an alleged incident April 5.

Womack was transferred from the city lockup early Sunday to the Westmoreland County Prison by deputy sheriffs.

Womack was not charged in Saturday's shooting.

Prior arrests

Womack and Aaron Jackson were arrested April 5 outside Denny's restaurant in Rostraver Township after Smith and members of the state Attorney General's drug task force allegedly found two bundles of suspected heroin in Womack's pocket and one brick of suspected heroin in Jackson's back pocket.

Both were in possession of thousands of dollars, police said.

Agents found 13 bricks of suspected heroin tucked under a mattress in their room at the Holiday Inn Express in Rostraver Township.

Their arrests were part of an ongoing, large-scale drug investigation involving the state Attorney General's office and local police.

Jackson and Womack each were charged with two counts of possession with intent to deliver and possession of a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy.

Womack also was charged with aggravated and simple assault for an alleged incident April 5 involving Samone Stepoli.

Both men were released from the Westmoreland County Prison April 6, each after posting $50,000 through a bail bondsman.

A warrant was issued for Aaron Jackson, 21, for failure to appear for a preliminary hearing Friday before Dalfonso on drug charges from that case.

Another shooting

Saturday's shooting is similar to one that occurred less than two weeks ago at 637 S. 14th St.

Police said that in the April 22 shooting, a black male wearing a red hoodie emerged from the side of a house at 637 S. 14th St. around 5:30 p.m. and fired at least five shots at a male walking up to a house next door at 643 S. 14th St.

Five bullets struck the side of a vacant house at 649 S. 14th St.

Neither the shooter nor the apparent target have been identified. The incident is still under investigation.

Mandarino said he believes that shooting was a continuation of a drug-related feud that has been ongoing for years between residents from Monessen and Donora.

Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at



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