Five shot in two incidents in Homewood; constable questioned
By Michael Hasch, Adam Smeltz and Margaret Harding
Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 3:06 p.m.
An off-duty state constable who police said shot and killed a man Wednesday afternoon in Homewood after the victim shot and wounded another man in a domestic dispute is not licensed to carry a gun in Allegheny County, Pittsburgh police said.
The shooting was one of two in a violent afternoon in Homewood that killed one person, wounded four and prompted a school lockdown.
Police said the shootings are not related.
City homicide detectives interviewed the constable and other witnesses and will discuss the shooting with Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. to determine whether any charges are warranted in the fatal shooting that occurred around 3 p.m. in a home on Oakwood Street, city police Lt. Kevin Kraus said.
The dead man was identified as Leon Wilson, 42, who lived at the home.
The name of the 38-year-old constable — a 13-year-veteran who works for District Judge Kevin E. Cooper in Homewood — was not immediately released.
Kraus said Wilson lived in a home on Oakwood Street with his 45-year-old fiancee and two young children. The children were not home when the shooting occurred.
The couple argued several times Tuesday night and Wednesday before Wilson, a convicted felon who is not permitted to have firearms, began brandishing a gun, Kraus said.
The woman called her daughter, who arrived with the constable in an attempt to defuse the situation. When the woman's 19-year-old son arrived, they decided they wanted Wilson to leave.
As Wilson was packing, Kraus said, he pulled out a revolver and shot the 19-year-old in the shoulder.
“The constable then pulled out his firearm and badge and immediately identified himself,” Kraus said. “He ordered the male to drop the gun, but he ignored the command and fired another shot at the 19-year-old.”
The constable fired six times, hitting the gunman in his head, chest, shoulder and arm, Kraus said. Wilson was pronounced dead at the scene. The 19-year-old remains hospitalized and is expected to recover, the lieutenant said.
When first responders arrived, they found the 19-year-old sitting on the curb, bleeding. The constable remained on the scene and surrendered to police.
One onlooker wept quietly and another yelled questions at the constable, clad in a brown T-shirt, who said nothing as police led him away. Kraus described him as “cooperative” and said he was released after being questioned.
Kraus said a preliminary investigation showed that the constable does not have a permit from the Allegheny County Sheriff's Department or state police to carry or use a firearm in the county.
According to the August 2012 version of the Allegheny County “Constable Handbook,” constables — who serve warrants, court papers and transport prisoners for district courts — are required to undergo basic and firearms training when they are first elected or appointed.
“Firearms certification and yearly certification also is mandatory for Constables who carry a firearm,” the handbook states.
Cooper and the constable could not be reached for comment.
The shooting occurred about 45 minutes after gunfire prompted school officials to lock down a Pittsburgh Public Schools Student Achievement Center because three people were shot on Brushton Avenue, not far from the school and about a half-mile away from the other shooting, police said.
Steven Wise, 60, lives nearby on Baxter Street and said he heard 25 to 30 shots and saw a brown car speed down Brushton.
“I came outside and I saw all these cops flying up the hill, and a man was lying on the ground,” Wise said. “This is the third day in a row of shooting. It really bothers me.”
Wise said he has lived in Homewood for 50 years.
“It was never, never this bad,” he said.
The victims on Brushton included one woman and one man; the gender of the third person wasn't known because he or she was removed from the scene before police arrived, city police Cmdr. Timothy O'Connor said. He said paramedics took a man and a woman to UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland, where he was in serious condition and she was in fair condition.
The man was found in the street about 2:15 p.m. The woman was found on the steps of an apartment building.
School spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said the Student Achievement Center has 178 students in grades six through 12. No students there are believed to have been involved in the shooting, Pugh said.
The school, which normally dismisses at 2:21 p.m., was locked down until 2:40 p.m.
Staff writer Mike Wereschagin contributed to this report.
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