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Bystander killed in East Liberty gun battle

| Wednesday, July 30, 2008, 12:00 p.m.

A maintenance worker carrying a cardboard box at the East Liberty Garden Apartments was gunned down Tuesday when he was caught in the crossfire of a gun battle and then run over twice by a getaway car.

Vincent Darnell Terry, 55, of East Liberty, was taken to UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland, where he died at 5:40 p.m., a spokesman for the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office said.

"This senseless killing has got to stop," city police spokeswoman Diane Richard said, standing in the parking lot where the man fell. "He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This man was just working and died senselessly."

None of those involved in the shootout -- including one gunman wearing a bulletproof vest -- has been identified or arrested, Richard said.

"A few witnesses have helped us. Most people are afraid to come forward, to be seen talking to police," she said.

The shooting occurred about 5:05 p.m. at the apartment complex at the intersection of Broad Street and Larimer Avenue in East Liberty.

Two men got out of a car and approached one or more people near Fareham Court, where a number of shots were fired, shattering the front door of one home.

"I heard eight, nine, 10 gunshots," said Dominique Peebles, who was inside when the shooting erupted. "I heard 'pop, pop, pop' going real fast, 'pop, pop, pop' back to back. I heard everybody screaming, 'Get your kids! Get in the house!' I grabbed my baby and called Pittsburgh police."

As dozens of children and their parents scattered, the two men ran back to the getaway car as Terry, carrying an empty gas water heater box, darted from Cambria Court and began running across the parking lot behind them.

Richard said Terry was shot in the shoulder and fell behind the getaway car.

As the driver was leaving the parking lot, he backed over the maintenance man twice before speeding off, dragging him about 60 feet before he rolled free, his shoes and hat strewn on the asphalt.

Richard said it is unknown if the fatal injuries were the result of the man being shot or hit by the vehicle, described as a late 1980s model car with blue top and gray bottom. The windshield and a passenger window were shattered by the gunfire.

The driver was described as a light-skinned black man who is bald and in his late 40s, Richard said.

One of his passengers was described as a black man in his 20s, 135 pounds, wearing black shorts, a gray T-shirt and a bulletproof vest. He was carrying a handgun. The other passenger was a black man in his 20s who was wearing bluejeans and a T-shirt.

The bulletproof vest was found a short distance away on Broad Street, Richard said.

Many residents used the word "nice" to describe Terry. A building manager refused comment, but one co-worker said he had only worked at the complex for about six weeks.

"He was outside every morning, sweeping, cleaning, picking up the trash," Peebles said.

Her grandmother, Gloria Peebles, said: "He was a nice person, a quiet man. He would do anything he could for you. I'm sorry for him. It's a tragedy."

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