Teen stabbed in Pittsburgh Target cleared to head home


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Less than two days after Allison Meadows was stabbed twice in a frenzy at the East Liberty Target store, she received clearance to head home and her father reiterated his praises for the men who helped save her.

A sling on her right arm, her blond hair braided over her left shoulder, the 16-year-old from Chattanooga, Tenn., stood quietly in sweatpants and sparkling black shoes Wednesday while her father described what her family has experienced since the attack.

Allison, who is expected to leave the hospital this morning, was one of several people injured after police said Leon Raymond Walls, 41, who is homeless, pulled out a knife near the cashiers' aisles Monday night and thrust it into Allison's right arm and back, puncturing her lung.

At least four men helped to pull Allison away from Walls, and police are considering whether to nominate them for commendations.

"It's just been a very mind-blowing experience," said Allison's father, Glen Meadows, 50, of Chattanooga. "We're really grateful that God spared her life by providing these guys that just jumped into a fight that really wasn't theirs."

Allison's family has been to the Target store at the corner of Penn Avenue and Penn Circle South several times before.

They travel to Pittsburgh about once every two months to visit Allison's nephew, Cooper Meadows. Cooper, who is 3 years old, underwent a triple transplant of the liver, bowel and pancreas and was being treated at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC for more than a year before he was released to another facility in the city.

Allison and her mother, Sharon Meadows, and Cooper's mother, Chelsey Stokes, were "making the routine visit down to Target" on Monday night when Walls came out of the store's bathroom with a knife, Mr. Meadows said.

Witnesses said Walls grabbed Allison around the neck, dragged her and then stabbed her twice. Four men helped to save Allison -- tearing her away from Walls and then struggling with Walls until police came and used pepper spray and a Taser to arrest him.

Allison, a sophomore who excels at softball and academics, declined to comment on the struggle. Her father said they're trying to avoid talking about it.

"Right now, we're kind of focusing on her physical condition and then later we may delve into that," Mr. Meadows said. "She's a very tough, physical person and I think mentally ... she'll equal that. I'm not saying there's not going to be issues that we have to deal with somewhere down the road, but she's a great person of faith."

Police said they do not yet have a motive for the stabbing and they are researching Walls' background.

Walls spent eight years in a California state prison on charges of voluntary manslaughter and robbery stemming from a Feb. 17, 1991, robbery that left one woman dead. While he was serving that sentence, he was charged with battery, according to a spokesman at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

He later accumulated a criminal record in New Jersey -- where he was convicted of criminal mischief with property damage -- and Washington, D.C., where he was accused of biting a man on the head at a homeless shelter.

Walls had recently been staying at the men's shelter in the basement of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church. It's unclear how long he'd been staying there.

On Saturday, Walls ate at the East Liberty Target store with another homeless man, who said he goes by the moniker "E."

E said while they ate together Walls told E that he was stressed out and wasn't where he wanted to be in his life. But E said it didn't seem like Walls was facing anything out of the ordinary.

Hours before the Monday stabbing, Walls visited the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in East Liberty, which he did often to pass the time, said E, who is in his mid-40s.

"He sat there, listening to headphones, laughing and scribbling on paper," he said.

Walls was a "fairly intelligent" man who enjoyed reading and kept to himself, E said.

"He seemed OK," E said. "I never saw it coming. It threw me for a loop."

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. Lexi Belculfine: lbelculfine@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1878, or Twitter: @LexiBelc.


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