State police: Man trying to sell heroin in Elliott drove toward troopers before gunshots

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A Beltzhoover man thought he was about to sell as many as 10 bundles of heroin Wednesday night to someone in Pittsburgh's Elliott neighborhood when he instead encountered undercover police, according to court documents made available this morning.

Pennsylvania State Police said Drew Bey, 48, drove toward troopers several times, prompting at least one to open fire, as he tried to escape.

Mr. Bey, who was not struck by the gunfire, awaited arraignment this morning on charges of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault and numerous other crimes.

State police Sgt. Brian Dropinski wrote in an affidavit of probable cause that a confidential informant agreed to help troopers and members of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration coordinate a deal in which they could catch Mr. Bey selling between 10 and 20 bricks of heroin, as the suspect had done "several times in the past."

When Mr. Bey arrived at the designated location -- in a lot across the street from a home in the 700 block of Linhart Street -- troopers and DEA task force officers surrounded the car he was driving and pulled out their guns.

Although police identified themselves, Mr. Bey tried to reverse out of the situation and struck a Dumpster, the sergeant wrote. Two troopers jumped out of the way.

Mr. Bey sped in reverse out of the parking lot, hitting a guide rail, a brick wall and a concrete wall as he went, police said.

One trooper tried to block Mr. Bey in using his car. Others ran toward the suspect's car. They again commanded Mr. Bey to stop, state police said.

Sgt. Dropinski wrote that Mr. Bey raised his hands into the air while seated inside the 1999 Lincoln Contintental he was driving, but then hit the gas again, driving toward the only opening, where a trooper happened to be standing.

As Mr. Bey drove toward one trooper, another -- Cpl. Erik Friend -- opened fire, according to the affidavit.

Mr. Bey drove further down Linhart Street, hit an empty Chrysler 200, then a 2003 Ford Focus with a woman at the wheel, state police said. He later told investigators he continued to drive until his car stopped running on Minnotte Square, just off Sawmill Run Boulevard, according to the complaint.

A Pittsburgh police K-9 officer tracked him to a nearby creek behind a BP gas station and took him into custody. Members of the Allegheny County police department and sheriff's office also assisted.

Trooper Robin Mungo, spokeswoman for the state police barracks that covers Pittsburgh, said state police encountered Mr. Bey several times in the past but declined to offer specifics.

"You meet with targets at times and when it's time to take the target down ... you have that one last buy-bust," she said. "This one went different than they normally do."

A state police spokesman in Harrisburg said Cpl. Friend joined the state police in 1999 and is assigned to Troop B's vice unit, which handles cases in the region. He was promoted to corporal earlier this year.

That spokesman, Trooper Adam Reed, said early reports seem to indicate that Cpl. Friend was justified in his decision to open fire.

"Deadly force is justified for any law enforcement officers any time your life is in danger," Trooper Reed said. "That could be, perhaps, if someone has a gun pointed at you or is firing at you or, in this case, a vehicle is coming at you. Certainly a vehicle is a deadly weapon if it's used with that intention."

First Published November 21, 2013 10:14 AM

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