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North Side man kills himself as police rap on his door

| Friday, April 22, 2011, 12:00 p.m.

A man fatally shot himself on Thursday afternoon when Pittsburgh police knocked on the door of his Observatory Hill home to retrieve his weapons, authorities said.

A judge ordered Brian McHale, 38, to appear in court at 1 p.m. yesterday to turn in his weapons because of a domestic violence charge, police Cmdr. RaShall Brackney said. When McHale did not appear, police went to check his home, Brackney said.

Officers arrived at the duplex on Baytree Street about 1:15 p.m., knocked and announced themselves, then heard a single gunshot, Brackney said.

"It sounded like a cannon," said Doug Smith, who lives in the apartment below McHale's. "It's not something that happens every day."

Police called in a SWAT team and a negotiator, Brackney said. After two hours of unsuccessfully trying to reach him via text messages and phone calls, officers fired gas into the home and entered. They found McHale alone, dead from what appeared to be a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound, Brackney said.

Shaler police on Sunday had charged McHale with harassment and terroristic threats. He had a hearing yesterday morning before District Judge Robert Dzvonick, court records show.

Smith said McHale was separated from his wife and police had found a gun in his truck earlier this week.

"He's been going through some issues," Smith said.

Neighbors said they were impressed with how police handled the situation when they shut down a part of Baytree Street.

"Everybody was calm and patient," said Alyson Fisher, who was stuck in her home near McHale's. "They made sure everyone had their windows closed before they used the tear gas. They did a very good job."

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