At least three people shot in Edgewood Towne Center Saturday afternoon
By Timothy Puko and Bill Vidonic
Published: Saturday, March 30, 2013, 4:51 p.m.
Anita Hopkins dashed into Dots women's clothing store in Edgewood Towne Centre on Saturday to escape a hail of bullets that flew past her, ducking behind the sales counter and screaming for employees to hide with her.
Within moments, she saw an acquaintance outside the store, and when she opened the door, he said, “My boy got shot.” She saw another man clutching his stomach and bleeding badly.
“I lost my son (Devlin Mitchell) to the streets in a 2005 shooting,” said Hopkins of Swissvale. “I just can't take this any more. I can't believe this is happening.”
Police said three people — all innocent bystanders — got shot when two gunmen fired wildly outside the busy shopping center in Edgewood, shattering storefront glass and at least one vehicle window as panicked shoppers screamed and ran for their lives about 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
One man, 20, underwent surgery in UPMC Presbyterian for a stomach wound and was in fair condition on Saturday night, a hospital spokeswoman said. A woman, 51, and a man, 29, suffered leg wounds, police said.
Dozens of law enforcement officers combed the area surrounding the shopping center but did not find the gunmen, who fled on foot, Edgewood police Chief Robert Payne said.
Surveillance footage showed a black man shopping inside the Villa footwear and urban wear store and another black man walking past the store.
Payne said the men made eye contact and fired at each other through the front door.
“They both went for their guns at almost the same time,” Payne said, adding that the man outside the store apparently fired first.
“It may have been a chance encounter, but these two guys definitely know each other,” said Allegheny County police Lt. Andrew Schurman.
The man inside the store then ran outside, Payne said. The men continued firing as they ran in opposite directions, hitting three people.
Witnesses reported hearing anywhere from seven to 10 shots. The front doors of Villa and the adjacent Foot Locker were shattered by bullets.
SWAT officers and police from surrounding departments fanned out into neighborhoods in search of the suspects. They focused their door-to-door search along South Braddock and McClure avenues and Church Street.
“Cops were everywhere,” said Margaret Corson, 60, of Swissvale. “They had rifles out and were walking up and down the street. They were all over the neighborhood. It scared the hell out of me.”
Police arrested one man on a robbery warrant unrelated to the shooting and questioned him extensively in the shopping center parking lot. Police did not identify him, but said they hope he can supply the names of the shooters.
Ericka Davis, 29, of Homewood said she saw the two suspects as she was walking into the Dollar Tree discount store nearby.
“Next thing you know, they just start shooting,” said Davis, who hid between rows of greeting cards at the front of the store.
One shooter entered the Dollar Tree and ran out the back entrance, she said. The second suspect ran toward a wooded area, she said.
“My head and chest still hurt” from the tension of the situation, Davis said.
Another victim ran into the Ashley Stewart women's clothing store several doors down from where the shooting took place.
“We heard about nine or 10 shots and could see a lot of people outside scattering in different directions,” said Brittany Davis, the Ashley Stewart manager. “Then a guy ran into our store and said he was shot.”
Davis said the shooting victim suffered a gunshot wound in the back of the leg. She heard him tell emergency medical technicians that he was OK as they dressed his wounds.
“It all happened very fast,” Davis said. “It was shocking. Very scary.”
Terry Page said her daughter, Rissa Page, 24, who works at Villa, called her in hysterics after the shooting. As police interviewed Rissa Page, her mother stood near the store, waiting to take her home.
“She's done. She's not coming back here. She's quitting,” Terry Page said. “Everybody should be celebrating Easter, and this happens. It's just crazy.”
Payne said the shopping center was not normally a place of violence.
“I think that we're living in a society that is extremely violent, and we go right back to the gun issue, don't we?” Payne said.
Tim Puko and Bill Vidonic are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Puko can be reached at 412-320-7991 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Vidonic can be reached at 412-380-5621 or email@example.com. Staff writer Tony LaRussa contributed to this report.
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