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Crowd of 100 in Clairton failed to describe killer

| Monday, July 28, 2008

A McKeesport man was gunned down outside a bar more than 10 years ago, and investigators are still hoping to solve the case.

Erik "Bubbs" Westbrook, 30, was at the Hollywood Club on State Street in Clairton on March 22, 1997, with friends, Allegheny County Police homicide Lt. Bill Palmer.

Inside the club were more than 100 people from various Mon Valley communities -- including McKeesport, Duquesne and Clairton -- and many were there for a birthday celebration, Palmer said.

Someone set off a can of pepper spray on the dance floor just after 2 a.m., Palmer said.

"We're not sure if that played into the plot to kill Erik Westbrook or not," Palmer said.

Everyone inside the club went outside, and when Westbrook left the club, someone opened fire. He was shot multiple times, police said. He was taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Jefferson Hills, where he was pronounced dead.

At least nine shots were fired from a semi-automatic weapon, but the nearly 100 people outside couldn't provide a description of the gunman to police, Palmer said. Police found blood outside the club that didn't belong to Westbrook and thought the gunman might have been injured during the shooting.

Westbrook wasn't armed, Palmer said.

"We did dozens of interviews, but no one there could provide us with any information to help our case," Palmer said.

Investigators believe the shooting was either drug-related or stemmed from jealousy over a woman.

Additional Information:

Cold case files

Every Monday, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and local police publish details of unsolved homicides. Anyone with information on today's case can call Allegheny County Police communications dispatch at 412-473-3000 or county homicide Lt. Bill Palmer at 412-473-1253 or Sgt. Andrew Schurman at 412-473-1301. Callers can remain anonymous. People with information can also visit the county police headquarters at 400 N. Lexington Ave. in North Point Breeze.

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