Domestic spat erupts into family melee; 2 charged, 2 others sought

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A standoff in East Liberty ended yesterday morning when the city police SWAT team stormed a house on North Euclid Avenue and officers arrested a man and his daughter.

Pittsburgh police charged George Johnson, 49, and Joycia Johnson, 19, with aggravated assault.

Police said both, along with two other female relatives, had earlier beaten the man's wife, her daughter and a granddaughter with a hammer, ax handle, baseball bat and "unknown blunt object."

Officers also obtained warrants for Joyce Johnson and April Johnson, the relatives believed to have been involved in the attack during a domestic melee on North Euclid.

The three victims of the assault -- Joycia's mother, Mentoria Kellem, 52; her daughter, Sheree Robinson, 33; and granddaughter, Karlynia Kellem, 16 -- were all treated at UPMC Presbyterian where they were listed in good condition.

Mentoria Kellem, Mr. Johnson's wife, suffered bruised ribs and a cut to the back of her head. Ms. Robinson and Karlynia both suffered forehead cuts; Ms. Robinson also had a broken finger.

Police from the East Liberty station responded to a call at 207 Dodge Way in Larimer shortly after 11 p.m. Monday and found the three victims covered with blood. Mentoria Kellem was sitting in a chair fading in and out of consciousness.

Ms. Robinson told them about the assault and said Mr. Johnson and the other women were at 731 N. Euclid.

According to an affidavit, Mr. Johnson and his wife had argued about Joycia staying with them at their apartment at that address.

As Mentoria was leaving with Sheree and Karlynia, "George, Joycia, Joyce, April came from the apartment and began to attack the three of them from behind," the affidavit says.

Police said Mr. Johnson struck the women with a baseball bat while Joycia attacked with a hammer, Joyce used an ax handle and April wielded an "unknown blunt object."

The victims escaped and drove to Ms. Robinson's residence on Dodge Way, where they called police.

While two officers tended to the victims, another was dispatched to North Euclid and saw Mr. Johnson and the women standing on the porch.

When other officers arrived, the suspects ran inside the apartment and bolted the door.

Lt. Richard Pritchard tried to talk them out, but they refused to surrender.

Then, after about an hour of negotiations, the SWAT team arrived, broke down the door and made the arrests at 2:24 a.m.

April and Joyce Johnson had apparently escaped before police arrived and were not in the house, but officers obtained warrants for them.

Mr. Johnson was arraigned yesterday morning and placed in jail on a $10,000 percentage bond.

Joycia Johnson was awaiting arraignment yesterday.

Torsten Ove can be reached at or 412-263-1510.


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