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Two people shot underneath two Downtown Pittsburgh bridges

| Friday, April 26, 2013, 4:57 p.m.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Paramedics and police transport one of two men who were shot between the Seventh Street Bridge and the Ninth Street Bridge on Friday, April 27, 2013.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh police investigate the scene where two men were shot between the Seventh Street and Ninth Street bridges on Friday April 26, 2013.
Tyrus Campbell
Wykie Pace
Cheyenne Miller

Two people were shot and wounded Friday afternoon on the walkway along the Allegheny River, the third time this year that gunfire has shaken Downtown commuters.

“It scares me a lot that something like this could unexpectedly happen,” said Kara Olkonen, 18, of Carnegie, as she watched city homicide detectives gather evidence under the Andy Warhol Bridge, also known as the Seventh Street Bridge. “It's pretty crazy (this happened) in daylight.”

City police bicycle officers Kevin Sorenson and Ronald Spangler were patrolling the area when they heard a gunshot shortly after 4:30 p.m. and saw what appeared to be a street robbery on the walkway between the 10th Street Bypass and river, Lt. Kevin Kraus said.

The officers pedaled down and quickly detained Tyrus Campbell, 22, of Arnold and Wykie Pace, 21, who is homeless, Kraus said.

They also found Matthew Graner, 23, of McCandless, who had been grazed in the temple by a bullet, running near the Rachel Carson Bridge, also known as the Ninth Street Bridge, and found Cheyenne Miller, 21, Uptown, lying under the Warhol Bridge.

Graner went Downtown and met Pace. Together they went to meet the other two men under the Warhol Bridge for what Graner thought was going to be a drug deal, Kraus said

Instead, Campbell and Miller decided to rob Graner at gunpoint, Kraus said. During the holdup, Campbell fired a single shot that grazed Graner and then struck Miller, the lieutenant said.

Campbell is charged with attempted homicide, robbery and related crimes. Pace is charged with robbery and conspiracy, Kraus said.

While Spangler helped Graner, Sorenson caught and detained Campbell and Pace.

Inbound traffic on the 10th Street Bypass was detoured during rush hour because of the shooting.

It was the second Downtown shooting this month that interrupted the afternoon rush hour.

Two men were shot and wounded shortly before 4 p.m. April 5 at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Wood Street when a squabble over money involving a half dozen people escalated into a fistfight and then gunfire. A third man was injured in the brawl. A man and a woman were shot and wounded shortly before 8 p.m. Jan. 29 by a man who tried to rob them as the three were smoking marijuana on the ramp leading from the Warhol Bridge to the walkway.

City police did not say whether Friday's shooting was drug-related.

Alex Prunchak, 20, a University of Pittsburgh engineering student who just completed his sophomore year, said he and his friends took a stroll on the riverwalk a short time before the shooting.

“It's kinda unnerving,” Prunchak said. “It's just weird to think. This is a scenic riverwalk.

“We actually were down there about a half hour ago. It's a river walk! It should not be dangerous. It wasn't on my mind at all that there might be someone with a gun on a scenic walkway,” Prunchak said.

William Moore, 55, of the South Side, standing on the Warhol Bridge, said he is becoming accustomed to the violence.

“It was only a month ago that someone was shot (on Wood) Street. You just gotta be careful, man,” he said.

Police Sgt. Timothy Westwood and Kraus praised the bicycle officers.

“They did an outstanding job. They blocked all avenues of escape ... (and) contained the situation. It could have been a lot worse,” Westwood said.

Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7820 or mhasch@tribweb.com.

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