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DAs take aim at shootings

| Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009

The chief prosecutors in two counties are joining forces to stop ongoing gang-related violence involving youths from Donora and Monessen.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck and Washington County District Attorney Steve Toprani have agreed to work together to combat the gang shootings and assaults that have plagued the neighboring communities for the past six months.

Peck said they will ask the FBI, state police and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to help wage their war on the gangs.

"This is the worst I've seen in Monessen as far as gangs go," Peck said Friday.

While two suspects - John Duchi, 20, of 466 Third St., Donora, and Gregory J. Moon, 19, of 220 Allen Ave., Donora - have been arrested for their roles in the Jan. 20 afternoon shootings in Monessen that wounded two men, other suspects remain at large.

Donora police are looking for two men responsible for a rain of gunfire on Duchi's house Jan. 21 - the morning after Moon was arrested at the residence.

Duchi was arrested Thursday at an apartment in Hempfield Township. He is facing over 60 charges, including attempted homicide and aggravated assault.

Moon is also facing dozens of charges, including attempted homicide.

Both men are accused of firing more than 30 shots in the Reed and Knox avenue areas of Monessen, wounding Nico Grogan, 17, and DeJuan Windom, 18, both of Monessen. Grogan was shot four times, while Windom suffered a minor hand injury after he was grazed by a bullet.

Two other Monessen men believed to be targets escaped the gunfire.

Duchi and Moon are both in the Westmoreland County Prison awaiting preliminary hearings Feb. 6 before Magisterial District Judge Joseph Dalfonso, of Monessen.

Windom appeared before Dalfonso on Friday on drug charges. Police allegedly found him hiding under a porch deck after the shootings with a large baggie of suspected marijuana.

Windom waived his right to a hearing on charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and manufacture/delivery and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.

Dalfonso remanded Windom to Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $25,000 straight cash bond.

Police believe the violence is part of an ongoing feud between young men from both communities.

Peck said he and Toprani are determined to rid the streets of the violence that has been terrorizing residents.

"We want to restore a sense of order, and do everything we can to help," Peck said.

The veteran prosecutor said he is looking forward to working with Toprani, who is in his second-year of office.

"He's young and energetic," Peck said of Toprani.

Toprani said he welcomed the opportunity to join the alliance.

"We've been tracking the number of incidents for awhile now and we're willing to work together to get this violence to stop," Toprani said.

The violence between the two gangs has escalated since a July 1 incident in front of the Monessen Civic Center. A Donora man was badly beaten by Monessen men in that incident.

On July 14, there were two separate shooting incidents in Donora, which police have said were related to the civic center incident.

Two days later, one of the Monessen men charged in the civic center assault, Cordaro Jackson, was wounded by an unknown assailant.

On July 21, police executed a search warrant at Duchi's residence when they learned he had allegedly violated terms of his probation. During the search, police found a cache of weapons, including two assault guns and a bullet-proof vest. Charges are pending in that case.

On Oct. 3, three Monessen residents were shot outside a building in the 100 block of McKean Avenue in Donora. Joe Heath, Alan Lomax and Derrick Dixon were hospitalized after that shooting.

Charged in the Oct. 3 shooting is Anthony James "Jinx" Law, 23, of Donora. He is in the Washington County Correctional Facility awaiting trial on attempted homicide charges.

Police are still looking for another suspect in that shooting.

Police arrested Law Oct. 7 during a drug raid at a Donora house located near a home where another shooting took place.

The raid also resulted in the arrest of Edward A. Alford II, 20, of 131 McKean Ave., Donora, who has been indicted on federal drug charges.

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