Four people stabbed at Target in East Liberty
By Michael Hasch
Published: Monday, March 25, 2013, 6:18 p.m.
Pandemonium erupted near the checkout line of an East Liberty store filled with shoppers Monday afternoon when a man with a knife stabbed or slashed three people, including a 16-year-old girl who witnesses said was being used as a human shield.
The assailant is believed to have slashed a fourth person along a street a short time earlier before he was chased or followed to the Target store on Penn Avenue and attempted to get lost in the crowd, Pittsburgh police Sgt. Thomas Huerbin said.
None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening and the victims were not identified by police. The girl was in serious condition at Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville, where she underwent surgery for stab wounds to the back and an arm, Huerbin said.
Also taken to the hospital were a man who had chest pains while trying to subdue the assailant and a police officer who was contaminated with pepper spray during the struggle, the sergeant said.
“After he grabbed the (16-year-old) he was screaming, ‘They tried to rob me. They have my wallet.' It looked like he was holding her hostage. He seen the men coming after him with a bat and he grabbed the woman. They were trying to get him,” said Dominique Gomez, 21 of Wilkinsburg.
“One man was stabbed in the mouth. Another was stabbed in the finger,” Gomez said. “I think the man who was stabbed in the mouth was one of those (who) came up here looking for him.”
Huerbin said police don't know if there was a robbery, but he and city police spokeswoman Diane Richard agreed the incident began when one man was slashed or assaulted near Highland Avenue and Whitfield Street.
At least two men, including the man who was injured, then chased the assailant to the second level of the Target, where he fled into a men's room, followed by one of the pursuers, Richard said.
Moments later, witnesses saw the assailant chasing the other man out of the restroom, Richard said.
The man with the knife then ran to the checkout line where the 16-year-old girl was standing with her family, Richard said.
“He grabbed (the 16-year-old)...and held her in front of him with knife still in hand,” Richard said.
Surveillance video shows the assailant later holding the teen on the floor at knifepoint while two men pounced on him, Huerbin said. The video also shows the assailant — described by Gomez as a man with a “big kitchen knife” — being hit by the man with a bat, Huerbin said.
Chris Jones, 44, of Penn Hills, said he was outside the store when the man with the knife went running by, followed by several men.
“This guy obviously had no regard for anybody. By the time I got in the store the guy with a knife was getting his butt beat with a bat and fists,” Jones said. “It was pretty scary hearing girls screaming... Everybody was freaking out, hiding behind shelves, trying to stay out of the way.”
Huerbin credited Target employees with keeping most customers away from the melee and out of immediate danger.
Police subdued the unnamed assailant by using Tasers and pepper spray, Huerbin said. He was being questioned by detectives and faces a variety of charges, Huerbin said.
At the William Penn Smoke Shop, near where the initial confrontation took place, owner Darshana Maniyar, 40, said she heard men shouting on Highland Avenue.
“I heard the noise and saw a couple people running by, but I didn't see what started it,” Maniyar said. “There's always something out there, but sometimes it's just for fun.”
Her son, Umang, 19, said he saw at least one man run past the window carrying a bat.
Target closed for the night while crews were called to clean blood off the floors. Customers were told it will reopen at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
The store opened in July 2011 as part of ongoing efforts to redevelop East Liberty. It was built on the site of low-income housing that was torn down and serves as the anchor for the neighborhood's new business district.
Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Staff writers Bobby Kerlik and Matthew Santoni contributed this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police say they arrested a fellow cop for driving drunk after he shows up to work intoxicated
- Beaver County commissioners ask judge to hold sheriff in contempt of earlier court order
- For Steelers defense, it’s all a matter of trust
- Penguins notebook: Malkin to miss 2nd straight game Saturday
- Agents remove dogs from unlicensed kennel
- Shady Side Academy skaters make tourney semifinals
- Realizing the lies of ObamaCare
- Kovacevic: Keeping faith in Letang is simple
- McKeesport Area hosts student summit
- Steelers notebook: Woodley expects to start Sunday vs. Dolphins
- Jokinen takes center stage as fill-in for Pens’ Malkin