Staff from the Allegheny County medical examiner's office arrives at Redlyn Street in Knoxville where a shooting occurred this morning. At least one person was reported dead.
Pittsburgh police Chief Cameron McLay holds a photo of an Airsoft pistol found on Leslie Sapp.
Police and other law enforcement officers investigate the scene of a possible shooting on Redlyn Street in Knoxville this morning that occurred when authorities went to serve an arrest warrant at a home.
The house on Redlyn Street in Knoxville where a shooting took place early this morning.
By Liz Navratil / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A fugitive accused of raping a girl over three years “confronted” officers with an air gun Tuesday, prompting them to open fire and kill him, Pittsburgh police said.
Officials had been searching for Leslie Sapp III, 47, since July 21, when Pittsburgh police charged him with rape, statutory sex assault and other crimes.
When members of a federal fugitive task force arrived at his home on Redlyn Street in Knoxville to arrest him Tuesday morning, Sapp displayed an air gun, which shoots pellets, officials said.
Pittsburgh police Chief Cameron McLay was vague about what Sapp did with the gun, except to say that he held it “in a manner consistent with what one would use when trained to use a handgun against officers.”
The gun officials said he used was all black and did not have the orange marker placed on some pellet guns to distinguish them from guns that fire bullets.
“The officers fired to defend themselves, and that's really as much as I can share at this time,” Chief McLay said.
At least one state police trooper was present, as well as one member of the Allegheny County sheriff’s office.
The U.S. Marshals Western Pennsylvania Fugitive Task Force, which was leading the arrest, consists of members of the city police department, state police, sheriff’s office, probation and parole officials, as well as U.S. Marshals and some Westmoreland County officials.
Pittsburgh police said none of their officers is involved in the shooting.
The trooper who was involved with the arrest has been placed on administrative duty per normal protocol, state police said. Sheriff William P. Mullen declined to comment Tuesday morning, saying he didn’t yet have all of the facts.
How the task force traced Sapp to the home is unclear, as one neighbor said he appeared to have left for months and only recently returned.
That neighbor, who asked not to be named, said an investigator knocked on her door about 6:45 a.m., showed her a photo of Sapp and asked if she recognized him. The woman said Sapp had lived in the Redlyn Street house for several years, seemed to have disappeared a few months ago and returned around New Year’s Eve.
She described him as a nice man who sometimes trimmed her hedges and said she was shocked to learn he was wanted in a sex assault case.
On Tuesday, Sapp was listed on the local U.S. Marshals Office’s Top 20 Most Wanted list.
Pittsburgh police said Sapp sexually assaulted a girl, who is now 14, on several occasions between April 2011 and May 2014.
Sapp, the girl told police, was a family friend. Some of the incidents occurred at his house or at her relatives’ homes. At times, she said, Sapp smoked marijuana with her.
A sex assault detective wrote in a criminal complaint, “The victim stated to me that she did not report any of these assaults because she was afraid of Mr. Sapp and thought that she would get in trouble if she told her mother that Mr. Sapp had sex with her.”
Sapp has a criminal record that dates back to the 1980s, when he was arrested in Philadelphia on numerous charges, including aggravated assault, robbery and gun violations, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Prison System said.
In 1993, he was sent to a state prison on a 10- to 20-year robbery sentence out of Philadelphia. He was paroled in 2003 and spent the following years in and out of the system on various parole violations, state officials said.
In 2006, Sapp pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after officials withdrew a theft charge that they filed after Sapp received payment for hours he did not work at a local quarry.
He pleaded guilty in October 2013 to possessing a prohibited firearm and driving infractions. He was sentenced to three years of probation.