Arrest warrant obtained in Homewood shooting between Pittsburgh police, suspect

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Pittsburgh police have obtained an arrest warrant after an early-morning gunfight in Homewood that left an officer and the suspect he was chasing in critical condition.

James R. Hill, 24, of Homewood, faces charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, assaulting a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, fleeing an officer and gun violations in the shooting of Officer Morgan Jenkins.

In an email sent to bureau staff members this morning, acting Chief Regina McDonald said Officer Jenkins was struck in the shoulder and another bullet went under his vest.

Doctors removed bullet fragments from close to his spine during surgery this morning and hope that he will recover well, according to a separate update sent to bureau employees.

Officer Jenkins remained in critical condition at a hospital, where his family gathered.

His partner, Michelle Auge, was treated for two broken fingers and a fractured orbital bone.

Homicide Detective Dale Canofari wrote in a criminal complaint that officers Jenkins and Auge were patrolling in Homewood about 1:30 a.m. when they saw someone in a blue Chevrolet Malibu speed through a stop sign at the intersection of Kedron Street and North Homewood Avenue.

They followed the car for about a half-mile until the driver crashed while trying to follow a curve on Apple Street.

Both officers got out of their car. Officer Jenkins approached the car with his gun drawn and ordered the driver, later identified as Mr. Hill, not to move his hands.

Officer Auge joined him and the two repeated the order.

Officer Jenkins put his gun in his holster and tried to take Mr. Hill into custody when Mr. Hill stepped toward him, grabbed Officer Jenkins' hands and shoved him, police said.

The detective wrote that Mr. Hill got back in the car and shut the door on Officer Jenkins, pinning him while Mr. Hill tried to drive off.

Officer Auge grabbed the driver and the two officers told Mr. Hill he was under arrest, according to the complaint.

Police said Mr. Hill, who is 5-foot-10 and weighs 180 pounds, shoved and pulled both officers while they tried to pull him out of the car. When they got Mr. Hill out of the car, he shoved them against it, police said.

Officer Auge tried to shock Mr. Hill with a Taser but it did not have any effect.

During that part of the scuffle, Officer Auge broke two fingers on her left hand and fractured her orbital bone.

Mr. Hill ran away on Apple Street, police said, and Officer Jenkins followed behind him, while Officer Auge called for back-up.

Officer Auge chased behind the two while they ran between houses near Chaucer Street and down a wooded hillside.

She told homicide detectives, who investigate officer shootings, that she heard two shots come from the area. She said she followed the chaos and when she caught up with them Mr. Hill was on her left and Officer Jenkins was on her right at the bottom of the hill.

She told detectives she saw a flash and heard a gunshot coming from where Mr. Hill was standing and then heard Officer Jenkins say, "I'm hit," according to the complaint.

She fired at least three shots at Mr. Hill.

Officer Donald Snider, who parked his car on Apple Street when he was called to offer back-up, told detectives he also saw flashes coming from where Mr. Hill was standing and ran down the hill.

He said he ran down the hill, where he saw Mr. Hill lying next to a gun. Officer Jenkins was about 10 or 15 feet away.

Mr. Hill's previous criminal history includes convictions on charges of aggravated assault, firearms violations and marijuana possession, according to court records.

Milton Raiford, an attorney who is representing Mr. Hill's family and acting as a counselor to them, said Mr. Hill was in surgery this morning and he did not yet have details abut the extent of his injuries.

"There's still a lot of investigating to be doing in terms of what actually happened in the early morning hours," Mr. Raiford said. "Right now, that's secondary compared to the police officer healing. It's been a tough upbringing for him, and his mother has done the best she could but it's a tough environment for young people."

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Michael Huss met with the officers' families at the hospital today.

"The city and specifically the others in the public safety department stand behind the officers and their families and what they're going through right now," Mr. Huss said. "As bad as it is, it could have been ever worse. Our thoughts and prayers are with the officers who worked last night and their families as they recover."

Officer Jenkins, 33, joined the force about eight years ago. Officer Auge, 37, joined at least a decade ago.

They will be placed on administrative leave, standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting.

Both work in the Pittsburgh police Zone 5 station in Highland Park, which is widely considered one of the most violent in the city.

Officers from the Zone 5 station have been shot at numerous times in the past few months.

Last month, police arrested Dante Bonner, 19, of Homewood, on charges that he shot Officer Christopher Kertis in the leg during a fight in East Liberty. Tiant Mitchell, 25, of Stanton Heights, was arrested after police said he shot at Officer Andrew Baker, who was protected by his bullet-resistant vest.

"These actors, their willingness to pull their guns on the officers, it's disturbing," Mr. Huss said. "But our police performed admirably."

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @liznavratil. Molly Born contributed. First Published April 11, 2013 6:45 AM


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