Woman fatally shot by Greensburg police identified; family says she had mental health issues
A Greensburg woman who authorities said was carrying a gun when police fatally shot her suffered from mental health issues, according to a family member.
Nina C. Adams, 47, was remembered Thursday by her aunt, Doris Jackson of Homewood, as a sweet, gentle person who was well-loved by her family.
“I’m so glad that nobody was hurt,” Jackson said. “It’s just a sad thing. We’re all still in total shock.”
Neighbors called 911 about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday after hearing gunshots on Grant Street and seeing Adams shooting a handgun in the road. One round shattered the glass front door of a Harvey Avenue office building, which houses Deluzio & Co. accountants, the American Red Cross and Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.
“She was just out on the street, and she was shooting, and that was it,” said neighbor Carolyn Righino.
Adams was on her porch and refused to drop the gun when four police officers arrived, said Chief County Detective Mike Brajdich. One officer hit her with nonlethal beanbags “but it didn’t knock her to the ground,” Brajdich said Thursday afternoon. Police initially said Adams had been knocked down and got back up, but additional interviews with officers revealed that wasn’t the case, he said.
A second officer opened fire. Adams later died at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital.
She was shot in the torso and shoulder, according to the county coroner’s office. Her death was ruled a homicide.
“The investigation is still ongoing,” Brajdich said. “We’re still interviewing people and neighbors.”
The two Greensburg officers involved in the shooting are off duty. Brajdich declined to identify them. Their employment status was unclear. Greensburg police did not return messages seeking comment.
No one else was hurt. The businesses affected were open Thursday.
Jackson recalled the close relationship Adams had with her son when they were growing up. Jackson moved out of state for a time, but kept in touch by sending Adams greeting cards. Jackson called Adams “her little nungie.”
“Everything about Nina in her early years, she was the most precious, giving person,” Jackson said. “Nina was as gentle as a little baby puppy would be.”
But over the years, relatives learned of her mental health struggles.
“I think it’s because of the mental health issues that we’re at the state we’re at today,” Jackson said. “This family, we are so brokenhearted and through all of this I am so happy that God chose it to be this way … that no one got hurt.”
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Adams had no criminal history in Pennsylvania. She graduated from Seton Hill University in 1996 with a history degree, according to a school spokeswoman.
Adams lived on Grant Street for several years with her mother, who died in September 2015. Neighbor Catherine David said she adopted a dog that belonged to Adams last month after Adams left the animal on her porch in cold weather.
Neighbors described Adams as not particularly talkative, but not unfriendly either.
“I’d see her outside and say hello,” said Don Weatherhead, who lives around the corner on Wayne Avenue. “She was just sort of on her own. I never heard any ruckus or any parties coming out of her house … She put her trash out, and she kept her place up.”
Matt King rents an apartment across the street and said they were friendly. He shoveled Adams’ car out of the snow a couple times but said he didn’t know her that well.
“It was always just cordial,” King said.
Dave Hill, who has owned the Hill’s City Service mechanic shop on Harvey Avenue for 41 years, said Adams kept to herself.
“She was never any trouble or anything,” he said, adding he was “shocked” when he heard the news.
Righino said she has no idea what prompted the woman to do what police say she did.
“I was sad for her,” she said.
The last time a person was fatally shot by a police officer in Greensburg was 10 years ago when a state police sharpshooter killed Joseph Briggs, 22, of Maryland during a standoff. Briggs, a Seton Hill University student, had fired at least 42 shots Feb. 15, 2009, at his roommates, police officers and cars and homes near his Concord Avenue apartment.
That shooting was ruled justified after a coroner’s inquest.