Just hours after a press announcement on his department’s participation in a new anti-violence efforts Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper found himself announcing that two of his officers were involved in the fatal shooting of a Northview Heights teen.
“Anytime a life is taken, it’s a tragedy,” he said. “It’s a shame the actor didn’t drop his weapon.”
According to police, Jerome Williams, 15, was one of three young gunmen involved in a home invasion in the 700 block of Mt. Pleasant Road, Sept. 27. He died following a shootout with officers a few blocks away after the homeowner called 911 around 2:45 p.m. and said there were three armed men in her house.
Harper said when the officers responded they saw the trio fleeing the house and began chasing them. They caught up with Williams near a wooded area between Penfort and Lamar streets and ordered him to drop his pistol. Instead of surrendering, Williams turned and opened fire with the .357 magnum.
The officers returned fire, striking him at least once in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“The officers did see his weapon. They ordered him to drop the weapon, at which time he opened fire,” Harper said.
Though Harper said the burglary victim knew Williams and one of the other two suspects, no warrants had been issued by New Pittsburgh Courier deadline. The names of the officers had also not been released, but Harper said one was a two-year veteran and the other a nine-year veteran.
Both are on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation by the Allegheny County district attorney.
Witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots, but Ernest Johnson of Penfort Street said it was over quickly.
“I’m watching TV and I hear a couple shots, then a series of shots behind that, But by the time I walk to the window and peek out the blinds, it was over,” he said.
Johnson noted that shooting took place exactly a year and a day after 5-year-old Jaylon Johnson-Floyd was shot and killed while sleeping on a couch after men broke into his home. That case remains unsolved.
“I’ll never forget seeing that,” he said. “And this kid, I didn’t know him personally, but he was just another kid. When we had that bad storm in February, he was out trying to make a buck shoveling snow. But, you never know. It hurts me to the heart to see anyone killed, but, remember, there’s a choice they made.”
Harper said Williams and the other two burglary suspects match the description of a trio who tried to carjack a jitney driver earlier in the day.
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