Shooting death of former Slippery Rock standout raises security questions
An armed off-duty Pittsburgh police officer might have been able to stop or prevent a fatal shooting near a popular Oakland restaurant on Saturday, a city police sergeant said, but officers have not been stationed there since November.
“Hindsight is 20/20, but I think it would not have happened if an armed officer had been there,” Sgt. James Vogel said of the shooting near the Original Hot Dog Shop, commonly known as “The O,” on Forbes Avenue.
Zachary Sheridan, 24, of Brookline, a former Slippery Rock University football standout, died after he was shot about 3:30 a.m.
According to police:
An argument that started inside the restaurant continued out on the street. Three white men, including Sheridan, walked east along Forbes toward the University of Pittsburgh campus when three black men and a black woman followed. The groups then got into a fistfight outside Dunkin' Donuts.
As Sheridan and his friends began to run away, a black male fired a handgun. A bullet struck Sheridan in the neck, and he collapsed near the corner of South Bouquet and Sennott streets. Paramedics transported him to UPMC Presbyterian a few blocks away, where police said he was pronounced dead.
Pitt police responded to the scene after hearing gunshots and called city officers for backup. They found and assisted Sheridan, but the suspects had already fled, police said.
No arrests have been made. Police were searching for a black man who they say shot Sheridan. He is described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, 250 pounds, approximately 25 years old, with a medium complexion and closely cropped hair. He was wearing a white T-shirt, short pants and white high-top tennis shoes.
Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Michael Huss said he did not know why an off-duty officer was no longer at the restaurant, but he did not believe the city would have halted the arrangement. Some businesses pay off-duty police to provide security.
A woman whom employees identified as the owner of the restaurant refused to comment.
Huss said he did not know whether an officer would have been there at the time of the shooting in any event. The restaurant is open until 3:30 a.m. Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said additional information would not be available through the department's Special Events Office until Monday.
Patrons at the restaurant said they still felt safe there in the wake of the shooting, most of the time.
“I feel that being here around 2 a.m. is probably not very safe,” said John Heflin of Meadville.
Sheridan was an All-Century Conference linebacker at Seton-La Salle High School and a three-year starter at Slippery Rock from 2009-11. He also played running back, halfback and tight end for Seton-La Salle and was a special teams player on the 2004 WPIAL Class AA championship team.
“He was a good kid, a fun-loving kid who liked to have a good time,” Seton-La Salle coach Greg Perry said. “This is so sad. I really feel for his parents. He ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and something happens and he's gone. It leaves us asking questions.”
Perry said Sheridan was looking for work. School officials said he was a safety and environmental management major.
Slippery Rock issued a statement from football coach George Mihalik that read in part, “The Rock Football Family is devastated by the news of Zach's death. Zach loved Rock football and Rock football loved Zach. Our sincere sympathy goes out to Zach's family.”
Sheridan's family declined to comment.
He was seventh all-time in tackles at Slippery Rock with 315 and tied for 10th in sacks with 11. He was Slippery Rock's leading tackler in each of his final three seasons and was named a preseason All-American by Consensus Draft Services before his senior year.
University spokesman Bob McComas said the football team will wear a commemorative decal with Sheridan's No. 4 jersey number on the back of their helmets during the 2013 season to honor his memory
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death a homicide.
Staff writer Kevin Gorman contributed. Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Public implored to avoid iPhone cases that resemble guns
- Fireworks displays costly, but W. Pa. communities feel obligated
- Tradition rules in Pittsburgh: Keep bridge color the same, poll finds
- Plenty going on in Pittsburgh over holiday weekend
- Higher school taxes prevail in Western Pennsylvania, Trib finds
- South Side Slopes police chase ends with car into a front porch
- July 4 road and river closures
- Wabash Tunnel to open to inbound, high-occupancy vehicles Saturday night
- Newsmaker: Tessa Jimenez
- Pitt researchers using grant to find cures for viruses from mosquitoes
- Attorney general accuses Golden Living homes of failing to provide basic services to elderly