4 teens charged in Jeannette home invasion; 2 shot by occupant
Cody Shaw had a pistol and the desire to protect his home when he wounded two of four teenagers as they allegedly attempted to break into his Jeannette house Tuesday night, police said.
The shots rang out at 11 p.m. on Chestnut Street in a quiet residential area after Shaw heard and then saw the boys trying to break in through a window that held an air conditioner on the side of the home, police said. Shaw — who was home with his girlfriend — grabbed his .380-caliber handgun and confronted them, Jeannette police Chief Shannon Binda said.
“He was standing in his doorway,” Binda said. “They never got inside.”
Two of the teens, ages 13 and 16, were each shot twice in the legs. All of the boys fled but were later found, police said.
A blood trail showed that one of the suspects fled to Division Street and Western Avenue — about a half-mile — before the trail ended on a bridge over Brush Creek. Binda said police found the 16-year-old suspect on the bridge.
The 13-year-old was found at a relative's house, Binda said. Both were taken to hospitals. Their injuries were not life-threatening, Binda said.
The uninjured teens, ages 16 and 15, were found not far from the scene, police said. They are being held at the Regional Youth Services Center in Hempfield. All four are facing attempted burglary and conspiracy charges in juvenile court.
Shaw, who has not been charged, could be protected by the state's Castle Doctrine, a law that permits people to use deadly force when they fear for their lives or property, according to investigators and a legal expert.
“I have not seen all the reports yet, but based on a thumbnail outline of the event ... it does sound like the Castle Doctrine may apply,” Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said.
A criminal law expert who teaches at St. Vincent College near Latrobe agreed.
The situation “most probably does” fall under the state's Castle Doctrine, law professor Bruce Antkowiak said. The law's expansion five years ago allows a person to defend their property from a porch or walkway from someone trying to enter “for felonious purposes,” he said.
Efforts to speak to Shaw were unsuccessful.
No one answered the door at his home, and a phone number for him could not be located. He did not respond to a Facebook message. Shortly after the shooting, however, Shaw posted this message on his Facebook page:
“Thank God for the right to bear arms. I kept my house safe,” he said.
A long list of his friends responded to the post with congratulations, expressions of happiness that he was OK and assurances that state law is on his side.
Neighbors on Chestnut Street were chatting Wednesday afternoon about the event as they worked in their yards or watched their children play outside. They defended Shaw's actions and called him a respectful man. Most would not provide their names to a reporter.
Aimee McCune had just pulled into her driveway when she heard the shots, she recalled Wednesday morning.
“It could've been any of us, unfortunately. I'm glad it wasn't,” McCune said. “I'm very surprised that someone would break into their house. We're a quiet street. Everybody knows everybody.”
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.