Jeannette police identify fatal shooting victim, suspect in McKee Stadium incident
A 48-year-old Jeannette man was fatally shot by another man outside the fence of Jeannette’s McKee Stadium just as a high school football game headed into its final minutes Friday night, according to the Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office.
Dameian L. Williams died of his wounds at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg, Coroner Ken Bacha said. Williams was pronounced dead just before 10 p.m. Friday in the emergency room, Bacha reported.
The shooting occurred at 9:20 p.m. just outside the Park Street gate of McKee Stadium.
City police took the suspect, Greg A. Harper, 40, of Jeannette, into custody within minutes. Harper was arraigned before Harrison City District Judge Helen Kistler on charges of homicide and reckless endangerment. He was ordered held in the county jail without bail.
Patrolman Thomas Yaniszeski and county Detective Ray Dupilka reported in court documents that both men were attending the Jeannette Jayhawks game.
Harper reportedly told investigators Williams approached him and asked him to talk outside the stadium. Once they were outside the north gate, Harper claimed, Williams hit him twice in the head, “knocking (Harper) to the ground.”
According to police, Harper said he then pulled out a .40-caliber handgun and shot Williams once in the torso, and Williams collapsed to the ground.
In court documents, Yaniszeski said when he approached the shooting scene, he recognized Harper — in a gray athletic jersey and with long dreadlocks — standing near the north gate of the stadium.
As he approached Harper, Yaniszeski “observed a bulge similar to the size of a handgun in the center area of his waistband.”
Yaniszeski said Harper did not reply when asked whether he had any weapons, and he was subdued by police and frisked. Officers found a .40-caliber handgun in Harper’s waistband, Yaniszeski reported.
Police said they recovered a .40-caliber cartridge casing “near Williams’ body.”
Dupilka said Saturday investigators were not certain why the altercation occurred.
“We’re not sure of any longstanding dispute. We’re still running down information on the causation of the fight,” Dupilka said.
Anyone who might have witnessed the confrontation who has not been interviewed by detectives or police is asked to telephone county detectives at 724-830-3287.
The officers who arrested Harper were working at the game, said Jeannette City School Superintendent Matthew Jones. Three security officers were also at the game, he said.
“Immediate action was taken by the Jeannette Police Department, stadium security and district administrators to secure the impacted area and relocate the players, coaches, band and cheerleaders to a safe location,” Jones said in a prepared statement.
“Patrons were directed to exit the stadium opposite the affected area while a perimeter was secured near the incident.”
Tim Moore, 29, of Greensburg said he and his brother were smoking a cigarette outside the stadium when they heard the gunshot. He said he saw the police run from inside the stadium to tackle the shooter, who was smoking a cigarette as his victim was lying on the pavement.
The shooting did not involve students from either Jeannette or its opponent, Imani Christian Academy, Jones said.
The district will release additional information to parents during the weekend about counseling services and steps it will take to ensure student safety, he said.
The stadium does not have metal detectors.
Jones said he will meet with Police Chief Shannon Binda to discuss any potential changes. The team plays at home again Friday.
About four minutes were left on the clock when officials called the game and fans were asked to leave the stadium via the loudspeaker. Jeannette led Imani Christian, 48-0.
Sheila Thompson of Greensburg, a freelance photographer, said she saw people rushing out of the stands when the announcement was made for people to leave the stadium.
Another freelance photographer, Brian Cook of Pittsburgh, said he was on the field when he saw people running out of the stands in response to the announcement.
People in the press box gave the referees a sign to stop the game and the announcement was made to leave.
“It turned into a frenzy,” Cook said. “Once you get people in a panic, it’s hard to stop.”
Some fans were kept inside the stadium while police secured the area along Park Street.
“It happened outside the stadium, but it’s still a black eye on Jeannette and the Jeannette program,” Jeannette High School football coach Roy Hall said shortly after the crowd dispersed.
By 9:40 p.m., at least a dozen police vehicles surrounded the Park Street entrance and blocked off a section of Lowry Avenue as officials investigated the shooting scene. Yellow police tape cordoned off the Park Street entrance and a ticket booth that runs alongside the stadium.
Westmoreland County Detective Todd Roach was processing the crime scene, taking photographs and placing a marker where one of the shells was located, just outside of the ticket gate.
State and county police assisted local officers from Jeannette, Irwin and Penn Borough.
Bacha reported that Graziano Funeral Home in Jeannette is in charge of Williams’ funeral arrangements.