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Third Woodland Hills student shot in a week

| Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, 7:09 a.m.
Woodland Hills High School on August 23, 2017.
Ben Schmitt | Tribune-Review
Woodland Hills High School on August 23, 2017.

Three separate shootings of Woodland Hills School District students in the past week do not appear to be connected, police said Friday.

The latest shooting, in which an 11th-grader was wounded, occurred just after 6 a.m. Friday near a school bus stop at Jones and Kirkpatrick avenues in North Braddock.

Lt. Andrew Schurman of the Allegheny County Police Homicide Unit said investigators are trying to determine whether an armed robbery that occurred near the bus stop 10 to 15 minutes earlier is linked to Friday's shooting. He said the 17-year-old shooting victim is in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the abdomen at a local hospital and is expected to survive.

Schurman said the gunman was on foot. The armed robber also was on foot when he pointed a gun at a person walking along Walnut Street and demanded money, Schurman said.

The shooting victim was not involved in the robbery, Schurman said.

However, Mike Manko, a spokesman for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said the 17-year-old victim “was in possession of a handgun when he was shot.”

The gunman was described as a “black male wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with a white bandana covering the lower half of his face,” according to a news release from county police.

The school district is dealing with a spate of shootings. Two previous ones were fatal.

Jerame Turner, 16, a junior at the high school, was shot and killed Monday in Turtle Creek. An unidentified 13-year-old, who officials said did not attend Woodland Hills schools, also was shot in the arm in the incident and is expected to recover.

Augustus Gray, 14, an eighth-grader at the middle school, was fatally shot Saturday in Pittsburgh's Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar neighborhood.

“We're just kind of in shock again now a third time,” Woodland Hills Superintendent Alan Johnson told the Tribune-Review on Friday afternoon. “And all we can do is try to deal with each of these as they come to us and try to help our kids make sense of it and let them know that, when they are in school, they are safe there.”

In an automated call to district parents, Johnson called this past week “the most difficult week in the history of our schools.”

Johnson said he also understands that none of the shootings appear to be related.

“They all seem to be very tragic incidences of violence,” he said. “They happened, in the worst kind of coincidence, to be three students who attended Woodland Hills.”

Manko agreeed.

“Two things are clear based on the evidence collected so far: There is no indication that students from the Woodland Hills School District are being targeted in any fashion,” he said, adding, “The shootings do not involve any organized group of perpetrators.”

Assistant Superintendent Licia Lentz said the district has “activated our counseling response team and have counselors, social workers and therapists at the school for our students.”

Johnson said some students, who were overcome by the news of Friday's shooting, were permitted to go home.

“We are doing the same things we did for Jerame Turner,” he said.

Anyone with information concerning Friday's shooting is asked to call the Allegheny County Police Tipline at 1-833-ALL-TIPS (1-833-255-8477).

Ben Schmitt and Brian C. Rittmeyer are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach Schmitt at 412-320-7991, or via Twitter @Bencschmitt. Reach Rittmeyer at 724-226-4701, or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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