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Pitt's Pitts deals with cousin's shooting death

| Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, 6:30 p.m.
Pitt defensive back Lafayette Pitts defends during practice on the South Side Aug. 11, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

Worn down, sore and tired from a week of practice with the Pitt football team, Lafayette Pitts went home Saturday to see his family.

When Pitts arrived in Duquesne for a cookout, someone close to him was missing. His cousin, Charles Davis, had just left.

“I missed him by 30 minutes,” Pitts said.

The next morning, Davis' body was found in the driveway of an abandoned house in Duquesne, dead of multiple gunshot wounds. Allegheny County police investigators believe the shooting occurred a short distance from the house.

“He got shot eight times,” said Pitts, who spoke to Davis on the phone Saturday afternoon. “They left him … dropped him off somewhere.”

Davis, 18, played wide receiver at East Allegheny before graduating this spring. He is the second football player from the school to die this summer from gun violence. Former running back Chauncey Williams, 18, was killed July 1 in McKeesport.

“He didn't do anything to deserve it,” Pitts said of Davis, nicknamed Diamond. “He wasn't doing anything bad. He was just hanging out with some friends.”

Pitts, a redshirt freshman cornerback from Woodland Hills, and another cousin, Jevonte Pitts, also a freshman defensive back for the Panthers, were excused from practice Monday.

Lafayette and Jevonte Pitts are two of three Pitt football players who lost people close to them to shootings in the past week.

Freshman running back Rushel Shell was excused from practice Wednesday to serve as a pallbearer at the funeral of his close friend, former Rochester running back De'Andre Moon, who was killed Aug. 8 in New Brighton.

Lafayette Pitts said he is trying to cope by immersing himself in football.

“It's really tough,” he said. “I'm just getting on the field and competing and not trying to think too much about it right now. I came back so I can get away from it, but I know I have to go back and face it.”

Funeral services for Davis will be held Saturday in North Versailles.

Pitt senior safety Andrew Taglianetti said, despite the tragedy, Pitts has maintained the intensity and solid play that vaulted him onto the first-team defense.

“It's really sad,” Taglianetti said, “but he's still working and he is having a really good camp.”

Pitts said he and his cousins were inseparable while growing up, playing Midget Football and “just kicking back, joking around.”

“Me, Jevonte and him were like the Three Stooges,” he said. “He was like my brother.”

Note: Senior wide receiver Cam Saddler and freshman cornerback Jahmahl Pardner tangled briefly at practice and were immediately sentenced to run laps by coach Paul Chryst.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com or 412-320-7997.

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