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SWAT team error damages Sheraden home

By Margaret Harding
Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Carla Glover said she's packing her belongings and plans to leave her Sheraden home because Pittsburgh police SWAT officers broke down the front door and window in error.

“They violated my house,” Glover, 49, said on Monday. “Why would I want to live there where my door was kicked in? I have to start over.”

The SWAT team, which was looking for a shooting suspect on Saturday, had a search warrant for Glover's neighbor's home on Sutherland Street. Police mistakenly thought they also had a warrant for her home and backed away as soon as they learned they did not, Cmdr. Scott Schubert said.

But the damage was done.

“We immediately shut that one down,” Schubert said. “All we do is go with the information that's given. We're going off a good faith that that's the place that we're hitting. Obviously, we don't just arbitrarily pick a house and hit it.”

Schubert said police contacted Glover and waited until her daughter arrived before leaving the house. Public Works boarded up the broken window.

“If I could've fixed the door myself, I would've,” Schubert said. “We caused the damage and I wanted to do everything we could to minimize the effect. Unfortunately, it happened, but based on the information we had at the time, we were doing an operation.”

“SWAT was given the information (that) we were watching both houses, but we were only given a search warrant for 1111,” said Sgt. Tim Westwood.

Police told the homeowner to go through the city law department for reimbursement.

“I'm not aware of any time we've been liable for incidental damages connected with the SWAT team entering a home and serving a search warrant,” City Solicitor Dan Regan said.

Police were investigating the fatal shooting of Steven Lee Jr., 21, of McKees Rocks on Chartiers Avenue in Sheraden. Investigators believe Michael Lyons, 22, of Homewood pulled Lee off a party bus when it was stopped outside Craig's Bar and shot him, according to a criminal complaint filed against Lyons.

Police searched the home on Sutherland because a car suspected of being used in the shooting was parked outside and registered to a woman who lived there.

Glover, who was not at home when SWAT arrived, said she initially thought her window had been broken by a suspect because of the phone call she received from an officer.

“The police should've acknowledged the seriousness of it and been honest with me about what took place,” Glover said. “I shouldn't have got a nonchalant call on something that significant.”

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com.

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