Penn Hills man, 18, killed when semi-automatic rifle fires


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A Penn Hills teenager remembered for his charisma and musical talent died early Thursday after he was shot in the head when a friend’s gun discharged.

Nathan Hurrell, an 18-year-old who graduated this month from high school, died shortly before 1 a.m. on the back porch of a friend’‍s house on Springwood Drive in Penn Hills. The friend, Damien Franklin, 21, was being held Thursday in the Allegheny County Jail on one count of homicide in connection with Mr. Hurrell’s death.

Allegheny County police wrote in a criminal complaint that Mr. Franklin told them he and several friends, including Mr. Hurrell, spent part of the night hanging out on the back porch of the home drinking beer and “messing around with his ‘‍drones.’‍ ”

Mr. Franklin told police that he had four guns on the porch while he and his friends were there. According to the complaint, he said that three of his guns had been stolen during a burglary two years ago and that Penn Hills police had returned them to him earlier that day.

Mr. Franklin told police Mr. Hurrell picked up a 12-gauge shotgun and pointed it at him, so he told Mr. Hurrell to “stop playing,” police wrote. Mr. Franklin walked to the other side of a hot tub and picked up a rifle that he noticed was heavy, police said.

When Mr. Franklin turned around, Mr. Hurrell was pointing a gun at him and said, “Boy what would you do if someone had a strap pointed at your face?” police wrote. Mr. Franklin told police he put the gun he was holding on top of the hot tub so he could make sure it was not loaded, and “as he pulled the slide back the gun discharged and Hurrell was shot,” police wrote.

Mr. Hurrell graduated June 8 from the Winchester Thurston School’s Shadyside campus. About 100 students, teachers and other friends of Mr. Hurrell gathered there Thursday to remember him, headmaster Gary Niels said.

He said Mr. Hurrell was involved in school musicals and in the jazz band and the guitar ensemble, and he was host of a radio show, “Hip Hop Unlocked.”

Visitation is scheduled from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday at Wolfe Memorial Inc. funeral home at 3604 Greensburg Pike, Forest Hills. A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Beulah Presbyterian Church, 2500 McCrady Road, Churchill.


Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published June 19, 2014 12:00 AM


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