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Pittsburgh officer wounded during East Liberty traffic stop

| Sunday, March 17, 2013, 10:00 a.m.
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Dante Bonner, suspect in police shooting

Pittsburgh police accused a Homewood man of shooting and wounding an officer early Sunday — three days after being released from jail on charges of aggravated assault and resisting arrest.

“What we see more and more is a pattern of occurrences that these individuals are getting out of jail and committing heinous crimes again and again. If they would shoot a police officer, can you imagine what they think of a common citizen?” said Sgt. Michael LaPorte, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1.

Court documents say officers Christopher Kertis and Charles Thomas initially encountered Dante Bonner, 18, among a group of people causing a disturbance at the Sunoco gas station on Frankstown Avenue while the officers were on a traffic detail about 3:43 a.m.

Bonner got into a blue Dodge Avenger with three other people, which the officers later pulled over near the intersection of Fifth Avenue and McPherson at a Port Authority East Busway parking lot.

Bonner fled the car and Kertis gave chase; court documents said Bonner fired a gun and struck Kertis twice in the left leg. Kertis and Thomas returned fire, hitting Bonner several times in the upper torso.

Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said Kertis is a two-year veteran of the department. He also had gunshot shrapnel in his leg and foot, and broke both his wrists. He was in stable condition at UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland. Thomas is a four-year veteran of the department.

Bonner was in UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland in critical condition, Richard said. The administrator in charge at the hospital said she could not provide any more information.

Both officers are on paid leave while the department investigates.

Bonner has a long list of arrests dating to when he was 11 years old and found guilty of criminal mischief.

Last month, he pleaded guilty to several charges, including aggravated assault and resisting arrest.

He was released from the Allegheny County Jail on Thursday. Police charged him with assaulting a police officer, attempted homicide and other counts.

“This is the worst I've seen society in 20 years, assaulting police officers and so blatantly,” LaPorte said.

On Nov. 11, Leon Ford, then 19, of East Liberty was charged with endangering three police officers and the aggravated assault of one of them during a traffic stop in Highland Park. Police say Ford sped his car toward an officer, dragging another who shot him three times.

In January, police fired at a speeding car in the South Side that they said was being used as a “deadly weapon.” Last year, a suspect shot Pittsburgh police Officer Andrew Baker in the chest. The bullet struck his protective vest, and he was not seriously wounded.

Staff writer Matthew Santoni contributed to this story. Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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