Bar shooting brings charges

Testimony reveals suspect fired gun 10-15 times

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Pittsburgh police Detective Justin Simone recognized the suspect in a fatal Homewood bar shooting when he looked at the surveillance footage.

“He was my first arrest in field training on the job,” the detective testified Friday. “I recognized his face. I knew of the incident that I arrested him but couldn’t remember his name.”

Detective Simone went back through his arrest records to the first one in field training eight years ago and said it matched 28-year-old Cornell Poindexter of Pittsburgh.

Poindexter was ordered Friday to stand trial in the March 1 shooting that left one man dead and four others wounded inside the Rendezvous Phase III bar on Hamilton Avenue.

When Pittsburgh police arrived at the bar about 1:20 a.m., they found people running outside.

Inside, they found 27-year-old Vincent Holt Jr. of Homewood, who died after he was shot 11 times. One bullet lacerated his heart.

Four other men were treated at local hospitals for gunshots wounds to various body parts, including the side, arms and legs.

Homicide detective Peg Sherwood testified Friday that investigators quickly learned that the bar owner was inside during the shooting and offered to show them video from several cameras there.

She said the video shows that Poindexter walked into the bar.

He and Holt acknowledged one another. Poindexter took a shot, and Holt fell to the ground.

The shots continued, she said, and the video showed “people falling to the ground, people climbing over each other” and then “Mr. Poindexter climbing over them with a gun in his left hand.”

Others who were hit by the gunfire were “all in the general area,” Detective Sherwood said.

Defense attorney Anne Marie Mancuso asked District Judge David Barton to throw out attempted homicide and aggravated assault charges associated with injuries to the living victims, arguing that prosecutors failed “to establish intent” to kill them or seriously injure them.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Sullivan argued that Pennsylvania law allows the intent to kill or seriously injure Holt to be transferred onto the other victims.

Judge Barton agreed and ordered Poindexter to stand trial on charges of homicide, attempted homicide, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and possessing a gun when he was prevented from legally doing so because of his criminal history, which included guilty pleas to felony charges of escape and fleeing or attempting to elude an officer.

“This is a most disturbing circumstance when you discharge a firearm 10 or 15 times into a crowded bar,” the judge said.

Liz Navratil:, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.

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