Jeannette man charged in deadly stadium shooting ‘acted in self-defense,’ attorney says
The lawyer for a Jeannette man charged with the shooting death of another man this month outside McKee Stadium in the city said his client acted in self-defense.
At a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Jeannette District Judge Joseph DeMarchis ordered Greg Harper, 40, held for court on charges of criminal homicide and reckless endangerment for the Sept. 6 fatal shooting of Dameian Williams, 48, also of Jeannette.
“To me, it is clear this is a self-defense case,” defense attorney Pat Thomassey said. “Mr. Williams, the deceased, was a thug. He was known to be a thug in the community by all the police, by everybody else. My client knew about his tendency for violence.”
Thomassey suggested that, at most, Harper should face a charge of voluntary manslaughter.
Police officers testified that witnesses said they saw Harper and Williams engaged in a dispute outside the stadium, where about 1,500 spectators were watching Jeannette High School defeat Imani Christian Academy. As some in the crowd were leaving around 9:20 p.m., two Jeannette police officers on patrol at the game said they heard a gunshot.
Officer James Joseph Phillips testified he ran toward the area where he heard the shot and found Williams on the ground, apparently shot in his abdomen. Williams died early the following morning at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg.
Officer Thomas Yaniszeski said several witnesses described the shooter and said he had run across the street. Yaniszeski said based on the description, he suspected Harper was the shooter and found him standing near the shooting scene.
Police found a .40-caliber Glock handgun in Harper’s waistband. One discharged cartridge and a live round were found on the ground near Williams’ body. Police believed Williams was unarmed, Yaniszeski said.
Westmoreland County Detective Ray Dupilka said Harper admitted to shooting Williams but claimed he did so only after being attacked.
Harper, who said he attended the game to watch his child in the marching band, met Williams outside the stadium and asked that they speak. Harper claimed Williams struck him from behind in the back of his head and a second time behind his ear.
Dupilka testified Harper said the second punch staggered him and then he pulled a semiautomatic pistol from his pants and displayed the gun. Williams responded, “Yeah,” and came toward him, prompting Harper to arm the weapon, Dupilka testified.
“Mr. Williams continued to approach him, and (Harper) fired one shot into his torso,” Dupilka said.
Investigators said Harper did not indicate the nature of his dispute with Williams. Thomassey said after the hearing that he knew the reason for the fight but would not disclose it at that time.
Harper will remain in jail without bond pending a Nov. 26 arraignment before Common Pleas Judge Tim Krieger.
Wednesday’s preliminary hearing was conducted at the Greensburg courthouse to accommodate a heavy turnout of supporters for both Harper and Williams, as well as potential security concerns. Roughly 50 people packed the courtroom.
The hearing was briefly halted when a spectator who sat with Williams’ friends and family fell ill in the seating area of the courtroom. She was treated by paramedics and taken to a hospital.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .