Monessen man arrested in fatal shooting near Cal U campus

Fired upon party at apartment after being refused entry


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A man who was refused entry with his friends to an off-campus party near California University of Pennsylvania early Sunday morning opened fire on the apartment where the party was being held, police said, killing a young Pittsburgh college student and injuring a woman.

Keith Jones, 19, of Monessen, was being held Monday in the death of Jeron Grayson, 18, a freshman at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., whom Washington County District Attorney Steve Toprani said was in "the wrong place at the wrong time."

On Sunday evening, Mr. Jones turned himself in at the Belle Vernon barracks, where police said he confessed to the shooting.

Mr. Grayson, a 2010 Schenley High School graduate who lived Uptown, was attending a party in which at least 50 people were packed into a rundown student apartment building called Apartment F on Mechanic Street across from California borough's sewage treatment plant and a few blocks from the college campus.

State police said Mr. Jones and some friends, who had been at a party earlier in Monessen, arrived at the Mechanic Street building at about 2 a.m. and tried to get in.

When the tenants refused, apparently because they didn't know Mr. Jones, he left briefly but then returned at about 2:15 a.m. with a gun, police said. Witnesses said he shot at the building from a sidewalk that runs through a trash-strewn yard between the apartment building and some houses.

Mr. Grayson, who was inside the apartment, was hit in the torso by one of the slugs and pronounced dead several hours later. Police said he was not involved in the earlier altercation and appeared to be an innocent victim.

A second victim, identified in an affidavit as Ashley Jordan Gill, was injured by shrapnel and treated at an area hospital. Another man received cuts from broken glass when he tried to jump through the back window to escape the shooting.

The broken glass was still on the lawn Monday afternoon, mixed with fragments from a shattered bottle of gin. At the front of Apartment F, at least four bullet holes were evident in the walls and the door.

"You don't get into a party, so you start firing?" asked a man as he sat on the steps, shaking his head.

He said he was the father of one of the three tenants, but then refused to identify himself or his son.

Police said they still want to talk to many of the people who were at the party, but it's been difficult to track them all down and some have not cooperated. Although police said in the affidavit that there were "more than 20" people in the three-bedroom apartment, Mr. Toprani said the number could have been as high as 100 at one point.

A campus police officer on patrol in the area heard the shots and said he saw a man walking quickly from the area while trying to tuck a silver handgun into his waistband. The officer followed the suspect to his car, parked in a nearby lot, and watched him get in. He then removed the man and started to pat him down, police said, but the suspect pulled away from him and ran off.

Police later identified that man as Mr. Jones, based on interviews with people at the party. State troopers made contact with him and he agreed to turn himself in at about 5 p.m. Sunday.

A forensic team later recovered the gun, a .38-caliber revolver, from the passenger side of Mr. Jones' car and seized several items from the shooting scene, including two cell phones and a hat that Mr. Jones may have been wearing.

Troopers said the gun did not belong to Mr. Jones and they were attempting to trace its history.

Mr. Jones, who has a minor arrest record, was being held on homicide and related charges in the Washington County Jail.


Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.


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