Police arrest boy, 16, in East Busway homicide, say victim was innocent
Omar Islam's friends say a quiet fighter lived under his gentle persona, so they weren't surprised when the Troy Hill man fought back in the robbery that cost him his life on Oct. 8 in Homewood.
“He wasn't violent, but he did protect himself,” said friend Chad Kendrick, 33, of Wilkinsburg.
Pittsburgh police on Monday night arrested one of the three men they sought in the late-night attack along the East Busway, where investigators said Islam, 21, took seven bullets — in the head, back and leg. They identified the shooter as Jordan Bey, 16, of Homewood, who was arrested in Duquesne and placed in the Allegheny County Jail.
He is charged as an adult with homicide, robbery, conspiracy and a gun violation. Bey was last enrolled in the Pittsburgh Public Schools in June 2012, spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said.
Police said Bey, Desmond Young, 20, of Homewood and a man identified only as “Blue” first tried to use Facebook to trick someone into a robbery, then staked out a Homewood ATM for a victim.
When neither plan worked, the trio headed to the East Busway, where they found Islam, according to a police report. Islam struggled when they demanded his phone, and Bey shot him in the right leg, police said.
Islam dropped the device and other belongings and started hobbling away.
That's when “Bey shot the victim five times in the back and once in the head,” police Lt. Kevin Kraus said on Tuesday. Authorities kept searching for Young and Blue.
“I figured my brother would be at my funeral,” said Samir Islam, 23, of the South Side Slopes, Omar Islam's only brother. “To shoot someone like that — it's inhumane.”
He and more than 60 other mourners raised candles on Tuesday night at the site of the attack, honoring Omar Islam and calling for an end to gun violence. Friends said Islam had landed a job with UPMC, where he was to help transport patients, and had attended Frostburg State University in Maryland.
“Only we can stop” gun violence, said vigil attendee Anthony Wilson, 48, of Verona, who lost a nephew in an unrelated shooting. “But we have to take control of our children.”
Authorities charged Bey based on his confession and information from relatives, according to the criminal complaint. Kraus said police are processing physical evidence.
Supreme Court precedents keep prosecutors from seeking the death penalty for suspects younger than 18, said Mike Manko, a spokesman for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. He declined to comment on what sentence Zappala might pursue for Bey, saying it was too early to discuss.
A woman at Bey's Homewood home said no one was available to talk. A post that appeared on Bey's Facebook page on Sunday — five days after the killing — reads: “I got 50 shots in this tec big bro said aim for his chest or the neck.”
The incident began when Blue's girlfriend ordered him out of her house and he went to Young's home while Bey was there, according to the complaint. Blue said he needed money and the three decided to rob someone, trying Facebook and an ATM on North Homewood Avenue first, police said.
Blue scouted the busway to see whether anyone was in the shelter. When he spotted Islam, Blue returned to Bey and Young, and the three decided to rob him, the complaint states.
Police reviewed surveillance video at the inbound Homewood busway stop that showed the three males approach Islam between 11:40 and 11:45 p.m. and captured the robbery and shooting.
Officers found Islam dead next to a bench. Police have the gun they believe was used and Islam's phone.
“We have nothing to show he (Islam) was involved in criminal activity,” Kraus said.
Police said Young is about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 160 pounds. The man known as Blue is from the Homewood area, police said, but they couldn't provide further details.
Kraus said police are examining other robberies in the area to learn whether any of the trio might have been involved.
Investigators are asking anyone with information in the case — including Young's location and the identity of Blue — to call the homicide squad at 412-323-7161. Callers can remain anonymous.
Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Staff writer Bill Zlatos contributed to this report.