Man stabs 5 at Homestead mental health facility; police shoot suspect
Police fired seven rounds at a man at a Homestead mental health facility Friday after the suspect stabbed five people, leaving one victim in critical condition, an official said.
Dustin Johnson, 38, a former patient at Turtle Creek Valley Mental Health/Mental Retardation Inc. on West Street, returned around 2 p.m. brandishing a pistol and two large kitchen knives, Allegheny County Police Supt. Coleman McDonough said. He is charged with five counts of aggravated assault, five counts of attempted homicide, attempted arson and risking a catastrophe.
McDonough said police cornered Johnson at the end of a long hallway and persuaded him to drop the knives. Three SWAT officers fired at him after he continued to brandish the pistol, which turned out to be a black BB gun with a flashlight mounted on it. McDonough said the pistol resembled a real gun.
The initial 911 caller also reported that Johnson sexually assaulted at least one person, McDonough said. He did not elaborate on that in subsequent press releases and could not be reached for comment later.
Johnson was taken to a hospital and underwent surgery for multiple gunshot wounds, McDonough said. He is recovering in an intensive care unit. The victims also were hospitalized; most were taken to UPMC Mercy in Uptown. Police did not disclose their names, but said all were either employees or residents of the facility. The victim in critical condition, a resident, underwent surgery for stab wounds to the neck. The others were all in stable condition.
Police also said two other people also were taken to hospitals, but they did not suffer physical injuries. Police initially said six people were stabbed.
Cherrell Fulton, 28, of Wilkinsburg works at the Turtle Creek Valley mental health facility on West Street in Homestead. pic.twitter.com/LGFyi0KPI7— TribLIVE.com (@TribLIVE) November 11, 2016
Cherrell Fulton, 28, of Wilkinsburg said Johnson got off an elevator and walked to a fifth-floor office where she and three other employees were working. She said he pulled out a gun, and she dived under a desk. The fifth floor contains the facility's offices and is open to the public, McDonough said.
Fulton works as a resident adviser at the facility. She said she heard Johnson yelling "You ruined my life!" as he stabbed her three co-workers. McDonough could not say what the motivation was behind the stabbings. Fulton said there were no warning signs.
"He pulled the gun out and he said, 'Cherrell, sit down, I'm not going to hurt you.' At that point, I just crawled under the desk. I literally dove under the desk," Fulton said. "I just closed my eyes because I didn't know if he was going to pull the trigger."
Fulton, who was on the phone with a cousin at the time, told the cousin to call 911.
"I liked him as a person," she said. She said she monitored his medications. "He wasn't a bad individual to me. He was a nice guy."
Fulton would not say why Johnson had been a patient. She said he hadn't been there in about two months and had stayed at the facility for two months prior.
"I'm sorry he felt like he had to do this," she said.
Madasyn Czebiniak and Bob Bauder are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.