Police seek boyfriend in killing of pregnant Garfield woman

The day before a 20-year-old man killed his girlfriend and their unborn child, he threatened twice to shoot her and then himself, police said.

Lauren Williams, 20, spent the hours before her death Wednesday planning a baby shower to celebrate her first child's arrival in seven months, her family said.

Shortly before 10:30 p.m., she left a relative's house on Kincaid Street in Garfield and unlocked the doors to her car.

Her boyfriend, Kerrese Lawrence, a 20-year-old felon, jumped from an abandoned building and pointed a gun at her, Pittsburgh police said.

Ms. Williams told him to put the gun down while another person tried to "talk him out of doing anything dumb," according to a criminal complaint.

It seemed like Lawrence was going to leave, and then he turned around and shot her in the face, the witness told police.

Ms. Williams screamed and collapsed on the ground. Medics took her to UPMC Presbyterian, where she died 15 minutes later.

While Pittsburgh police searched for Lawrence Thursday on charges of homicide and homicide of an unborn child, Ms. Williams' family struggled to comprehend how the couple's relationship -- which seemed fine two weeks ago -- had in the previous few days taken a violent turn.

"We didn't think it was going to end up this bad," said Ms. Williams' cousin, Autumn Young. "She did everything a woman was supposed to do to protect herself. We just figured he would stay away for a while, and maybe they'll work it out."

Ms. Young said her cousin knew Lawrence from the Garfield neighborhood, where she grew up, and the two began dating less than a year ago.

Ms. Williams went to school and was working at the Highland Park Care Center nursing facility in Pittsburgh.

Lawrence grew up with a caring mother but saw little of his father, Ms. Young said. Before this week, he had been charged with crimes seven times in the past two years. Some cases were withdrawn. Others are pending. Once he pleaded guilty.

"Overall, he still was a good boy," Ms. Young said.

When the two attended a family event April 19, "everything seemed perfect," Ms. Young said.

But that changed.

Ms. Williams told Penn Hills police Lawrence pointed two guns at her Tuesday morning and threatened to kill her, their unborn child and then himself. He damaged her iPhone so she couldn't call 911 and eventually calmed down and went to sleep, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Ms. Williams told police she was scared to contact a neighbor so after he left about 11 a.m., she called her landlord and asked the company to change her locks, noting that a spare key was missing.

At 4:48 p.m., while she was at work, Ms. Williams called 911 to report that her boyfriend had called her to say that he was in her apartment looking for a gun she had hidden and threatening to kill her and then himself.

When Penn Hills police and Ms. Williams arrived at the house, Lawrence was gone. A broken key was in the new deadbolt.

Ms. Williams pulled a semi-automatic .40-caliber pistol out of a laundry basket and handed it to police. Officers found six rounds but did not find the second gun, Penn Hills Lt. Robert Myers said. He said the gun Ms. Williams gave them was reported stolen in Millvale April 15.

Penn Hills police obtained a warrant charging Lawrence with burglary, terroristic threats and other crimes.

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published May 1, 2014 7:28 AM


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