Police seek suspects in Coraopolis home invasion and homicide

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Allegheny County and Coraopolis police were looking for up to four people suspected of entering a man's home early Friday and shooting him to death.

Thomas Cassano, 39, died at his home in Coraopolis in what authorities said appeared to be a robbery.

Neighbors reported hearing shots shortly before 3 a.m. in the 800 block of Fifth Avenue, Allegheny County police Lt. Andrew Schurman said.

Police found Mr. Cassano's body in the kitchen. He had been shot multiple times, the lieutenant said, with the fatal wound to his pelvis, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner's office.

Neighbor and friend Thomas Jones, 50, said Mr. Cassano's two daughters, ages 6 and 4, who were inside during the attack, are with other family members.

He said he heard gunshots and saw two men and a woman running away. He went into his friend's home and found him on the kitchen floor. "He was a loving father," Mr. Jones said. "His kids were his priority in life."

The 6-year-old girl was bruised during the ordeal when she was knocked out of the way by one of the intruders, said the girls' mother, Tierra Simmons.

According to Ms. Simmons, the girl told her she watched as her father was bound with duct tape and shot.

Mr. Cassano stayed home and cared for the girls, one of whom is autistic, Ms. Simmons said. She described herself as his girlfriend and said she lives elsewhere with the couple's son.

Ms. Simmons said she was texting with Mr. Cassano just a few hours before the shooting, and he was teasing her about being up late on Facebook.

They exchanged messages -- "good night" and "I love you" -- and nothing seemed out of the ordinary, she said. "If there was anything going on, he would have told me," she said.

A search of Mr. Cassano's criminal history shows two assault cases and charges of burglary, robbery, assault and related offenses in a third case. All were withdrawn.

In the first two assault cases, he was accused of punching Ms. Simmons in the face. In one case, charges were withdrawn because she didn't show up for court, and the other because Mr. Cassano completed a drug and alcohol evaluation, court records show.

"We loved each other, and we have been together for a long time," she said. "We were making plans to be together and be a family and get married and have our family back together and in order."

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede. Jonathan D. Silver contributed.

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