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Boy, 6, accused of stealing bikes tried to pull officer's gun from holster, police say

| Monday, July 15, 2013, 7:24 p.m.

In a temper tantrum to end all tantrums, or perhaps a case of fear overtaking reason, police said a 6-year-old boy accused of stealing bicycles tried to pull an officer's gun from his holster.

The boy, who police said was caught stealing bicycles with two siblings on Friday in Troy Hill, hung onto the gun in its holster, kicking and screaming, when Patrolman Paul G. Abel held him away from his body.

The boy tried to kick out windows of a police car and bit Abel's hand, clamping down with his teeth and refusing to let go, police said on Monday.

The boy was treated for a bump on the head in Children's Hospital and taken to UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital for evaluation, police said.

The encounter upset Abel, said Cmdr. RaShall Brackney, who said it was something she hasn't heard about in her 29 years on the city police force.

“He is upset by the incident because he had to use force on a 6-year-old,” Brackney said.

She said Abel was forced to hold the child down and handcuff him so he couldn't harm himself or others.

Police did not charge the boy or his brothers, ages 4 and 8, because of their young age, Backney said.

A 16-year-old accused of acting as their lookout will be summoned to appear in Juvenile Court to answer charges, she said. Another alleged lookout, a little girl, is too young to charge, Brackney said.

The boy managed to grab Abel's holstered gun with both hands and remove the retention strap, though he couldn't wrest it from the holster, Brackney said.

Abel answered a call on Straubs Lane at 6:56 p.m. on Friday when a man said he detained the three boys and accused them of stealing his children's bicycles from the backyard.

When Abel crouched down to try to talk to the 6-year-old, Brackney said the boy suddenly grabbed the gun.

Taken by surprise, the officer “lifted the juvenile in the air away from his body,” police spokeswoman Diane Richard said, but the boy “began to kick and scream and would not release his grasp from ... the firearm.”

Abel placed the boy in the back of the police car, and he began kicking the windows, Brackney and Richard said.

When Abel opened the door to tell the boy to settle down because his mother would soon be there, the child replied “OK,” Richard said, but then “he launched his body at the officer, biting into his hand, breaking the skin.”

Abel bumped the boy's head while trying to get him under control, Richard said.

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

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