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Penn Hills homicide suspect had admitted to killing in Facebook message

Megan Guza
| Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, 4:25 p.m.
Steven Sparrow
Steven Sparrow

A Facebook message uncovered by a search warrant led police to a Penn Hills man wanted in the execution-style killing of another man over Labor Day weekend, according to police.

Steven Sparrow, 20, was arrested Wednesday in McKeesport by sheriff's deputies who — with the assistance of the fire department, pepper spray and a negotiator — talked him out of an attic crawlspace, Cmdr. Charles Rodriguez said.

Sparrow was charged with homicide in the Sept. 2 shooting death of 26-year-old Andre Williams. Williams, of Baldwin, was shot in the head during what police believe was a drug deal gone wrong.

A search warrant for Sparrow's Facebook account turned up a private message that read, “I pop dat (expletive) rite in his (expletive) face,” Rodriguez said. Police on Sept. 26. issued a warrant for Sparrow.

Sheriff's deputies received a tip that Sparrow was staying with a woman in McKeesport. The deputies went to the Bridge Street home Wednesday morning, announcing themselves numerous times, Rodriguez said.

They received no response but heard movement inside.

The deputies forced their way in but found no one inside. They spotted an attic entryway in the ceiling but had no way to access the crawlspace in which they believed Sparrow was hiding, Rodriguez said.

The deputies called the McKeesport Fire Department for help. It worked.

“Eventually,” Rodriguez said, “pepper spray was used in an effort to persuade (Sparrow) out of the attic.”

After 45 minutes of attempted negotiations, he said, the homicide suspect surrendered.

Then the homeowner came home.

J'qua Paylor, 23, was wanted on a warrant for terroristic threats, witness intimidation and harassment, Rodriguez said. She was also taken into custody.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, or via Twitter at @meganguzaTrib.

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