Man charged with attempted homicide after stabbings at East Liberty Target store


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A 41-year-old man faces attempted homicide charges after Pittsburgh police said he stabbed a girl in the East Liberty Target store and injured several others Monday.

Leon Raymond Walls, who is homeless, is being held in the Allegheny County Jail unable to post $250,000 bond.

A 16-year-old girl, Allison Meadows, of Chattanooga, Tenn., remains in critical condition at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, according to police.

Officer Ronald Tardivo wrote in a criminal complaint that he was called to the intersection of Penn Avenue and Penn Circle East shortly after 5:30 p.m. Monday for a report that a man was chasing another man with a baseball bat. While en route, he learned that there was a man inside the Target store trying to stab people.

When Officer Tardivo arrived, he saw multiple people bleeding and one of them, Jobe Wright, said Mr. Walls had stabbed him in the arm near the 100 block of Highland Avenue and ran toward the store, according to the complaint.

Mr. Wright and two other men -- Roland Smith and Tyrique Walker -- chased Mr. Walls into the Target store.

Witnesses said Mr. Walls tried to stab Mr. Walker and, when he missed, grabbed Allison, held her at knifepoint and used her "as a shield," according to the complaint.

Mr. Walls said, "You come close, I'll stab her," and then stabbed her twice in the back with a kitchen knife or steak knife, according to the complaint.

Police described a chaotic scene in which the men who followed Mr. Walls held him down, suffering non-life-threatening wounds themselves, until officers arrived and used a pepper-spray like substance and a Taser while arresting him.

Allison, who was visiting from Tennessee with her family, was taken to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said in a press release that the girl had a collapsed lung and was taken into surgery.

Friends in Chattanooga followed news of Allison's stabbing and surgery via Twitter and other social media.

Last night, she tweeted, "Hey y'all. This is actually Allison...thank you all so much for your prayers! I will try to get back with you all as soon as I can. ??? Y'all!"

Ms. Richard said one of the men will need to repair a wound to his face.

Michael Turner was released this afternoon from UPMC Shadyside, where he was taken after he reported having chest pains. He was released this afternoon.

"You see something like this on TV," Mr. Turner said. "I never thought that I would ever see something like this in real life."

Timothy O'Connor, commander of the Zone 5 station in Highland Park, said officers are still trying to research Mr. Walls' background and do not yet have a motive for the stabbing.

"Why he did this would only be speculation," the commander said. "It was fortunate that no one died in this incident and that he was detained and taken into custody."

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1438. First Published March 26, 2013 1:00 PM


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