Neighbors ask why after fatal Upper Hill District shooting
August 23, 2014 12:13 AM
A family member, right, arrives at the scene of a fatal shooting on Cherokee Street in the Upper Hill District.
By Lexi Belculfine / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Neighbors said Tina Crawford and her mother would have gladly given anyone the shirt off their backs or their last dollar. Patsy Crawford had been like a mom to many kids who grew up on Cherokee Street in the Upper Hill District.
So how was it possible, neighbors asked Friday afternoon -- standing behind yellow crime tape, watching as police processed a crime scene -- that the women had been shot in their garage leaving Tina Crawford dead and her mother wounded?
“They didn’t deserve this,” neighbor Kim Johnson, 28, said.
Pittsburgh police said they don’t know why at least three gunmen fired about 20 bullets into the open, one-car garage, where Tina Crawford stood on the one side, and her mother the other. Two of those shots hit the house’s yellow bricks.
Tina Crawford, 34, was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m., according to the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office. Neighbors identified her mother as Patsy Crawford, who property records show owns the house in the 900 block of Cherokee Street where the women were shot.
Mike Gregory, who lives nearby, said the area is “usually very quiet,” so much so, that he thought the gunfire he heard was firecrackers. Former city councilman Sala Udin lives across the street.
Patsy Crawford, who was shot at least once in the hip and possibly a second time, was alert when she was taken to UPMC Presbyterian, Pittsburgh public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said.
“She was very concerned about her daughter,” Ms. Toler said.
A woman standing outside the home sobbed and yelled, “I want to see my mom.”
Homicide detectives assured her they would take her wherever she wanted to go. She left the scene in a black, unmarked police vehicle and was taken to UPMC Presbyterian, police said.
Tina Crawford had worked in security for the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority since February 2001.
“Our staff are also devastated by this,” spokeswoman Jeanne K. Clark said. “We are like a family.”
Tina Crawford previously was a mentor and assistant behavior specialist at Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church, according to her LinkedIn page. No one at the church could be reached for comment Friday night.
The medical examiner's office removed Tina Crawford’s body from the garage about 6:15 p.m.
A tow truck then removed a dark, four-door sedan from the garage. Fresh handprints trailed down the driver’s-side doors.
Police left the scene by 6:30 p.m.
Ms. Toler said police are looking for at least three people, two of whom fled in a car on Cherokee, a one-way street, and a third, who left on foot. Police did not release a description of those people or the vehicle Friday night.
It’s unclear why the mother and daughter were shot, Ms. Toler said. The front door of their home was locked, and the motive does not appear to be a robbery, she said. Pittsburgh homicide detectives are investigating.
“Neighbors are outraged and sharing what information they can with police,” she said.
A neighbor who would not give his name said he heard a man and woman arguing outside the home Thursday evening. The man left in a car, he said.
Patsy Crawford bought the home for $1 nearly 29 years ago, according to property records. Neighbors said she lived there with her two daughters, and the family was kind, kept to itself and stayed out of trouble.
“They were as close as my three fingers are connected,” Ms. Johnson said.
“This is a quiet community, and this is something that’s hard for them to digest,” Ms. Toler said.
Lexi Belculfine: email@example.com or 412-263-1878. Twitter: @LexiBelc.