Shooter's attorney claims self-defense as family mourns slain Penn Hills teen
March 29, 2017 8:33 AM
Cynthia Marshman, 27, carries balloons to the parking space where her nephew, 16-year-old Deven Holloway, was shot and killed outside of Linton Middle School after a vigil for Deven Wednesday at the school in Penn Hills.
Stephanie Strasburg/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
People embrace at a vigil for 16-year-old Deven Holloway, a sophomore at Penn Hills High School, who was shot to death outside of Linton Middle School on Wednesday.
Deven Holloway, 16 and a sophomore at Penn Hills High School, was fatally shot Tuesday afternoon outside Linton Middle School.
People embrace at a vigil for 16-year-old Deven Holloway outside of Linton Middle School on Wednesday in Penn Hills.
People let go of balloons at a vigil for 16-year-old Deven Holloway outside of Linton Middle School on Wednesday in Penn Hills.
People raise their hands during the prayer at a vigil.
Penn Hills and Allegheny County police investigate the fatal shooting of a teenager at Linton Middle School
Bystanders react to the shooting death of a teenager outside Linton Middle School in Penn Hills Tuesday afternoon.
By Shelly Bradbury and Karen Kane / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Family and friends on Wednesday began to mourn the 16-year-old boy who was killed in a parking lot outside Linton Middle School, even as an attorney said the man who fired the fatal shots acted in self-defense.
Deven Holloway, 16, was shot multiple times in the head and torso around 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday while playing basketball outside the school on Maple-Lo Drive.
He was an outgoing, well-liked sophomore at Penn Hills High School, family members said.
Allegheny County police have not named a suspect or charged anyone with Deven’s death, but Pittsburgh attorney Phil DiLucente said a 22-year-old man from Plum shot Deven in self-defense.
Mr. DiLucente declined to name the man, his client. He said the 22-year-old man went to Linton Middle School on Tuesday “expecting to play basketball,” with three friends, but was attacked by Deven, who was wielding a gun.
The 22-year-old man fired first, Mr. DiLucente said. It’s not clear whether Deven returned fire. Investigators found a gun near the teenager’s body, but have not said who that gun belonged to.
Mr. DiLucente said the man did not know Deven. The 22-year-old was questioned by investigators and then released early Wednesday morning, Mr. DiLucente said.
“He went to [police] because he recognized that a very substantial act transpired and he wanted to make sure that it was explained to the extent possible that it was not the intent on his part to do any harm to anyone and he was being attacked,” Mr. DiLucente said. “It was self-defense.”
Mr. DiLucente declined to say what precipitated the shooting or give any further details about what happened.
Deven’s family and friends said Wednesday that they doubted the shooter’s account of events.
“Honestly, I don’t believe [Deven] would have a gun. Knowing my family, we would not allow him to do something like that,” said his cousin, Tyshon Marshman, 18, of Swissvale. “But, if it is true, then I believe it was for nothing but protection.”
Penn Hills police Chief Howard Burton said Deven was not on the police department’s radar before the fatal shooting.
“We have no record on this kid,” he said. “He’s never been involved with us at all.”
Allegheny County police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said Wednesday that investigators are still working to confirm exactly what happened. Detectives have interviewed the people involved in the shooting, as well as several people who witnessed the slaying, according to a news release from the county.
“We are in the process — via interviews, examination of physical evidence and continuing investigation — [of corroborating] the statements we’ve obtained thus far,” Superintendent McDonough wrote in an email. “Once we have an accurate [and corroborated] version of events, we will consult with the district attorney’s office to determine whether the charges are appropriate, and what charges will be filed.”
He declined to say whether investigators believe Deven was attempting to rob the 22-year-old man.
As the investigation continued Wednesday, Deven’s family, friends and classmates — around 300 strong — gathered at Linton Middle School to remember the slain teenager.
“It’s nice to see everybody up here,” said Deven’s uncle, Malik Muhamad, 50, of Penn Hills. “It’s a nice turnout, but we wish we were never here in the first place.”
At the gathering, attendees locked arms in prayer and released balloons into a clear blue sky. Speakers urged the Penn Hills community to show resilience, a message reiterated by one of Deven’s cousins afterward.
“It’s horrible that we have to come together for things like this,” said John Wilson, 42, of Penn Hills. “But I just pray everyone stays strong and sticks together in this one, because this is a hard one.”
Following a larger prayer service, a small group of family members placed a teddy bear, green balloons, candles and other trinkets behind the school at parking spot 118, where Deven had been killed a day earlier.
A small police presence was visible at the vigil, but school board president Erin Vecchio said the public will notice a “huge” police presence Thursday, with dozens of Penn Hills police officers stationed at district schools.
“I want to make sure these kids feel safe,” she said.
Dennis Henderson, a friend of Deven’s family, said the teenager began to struggle after his father was jailed.
“He was just a good kid,” Mr. Henderson said. “He was a kid who was going through a phase while his father was removed from his life and he got killed. When it comes down to it, he shouldn’t be dead.”
Shelly Bradbury: email@example.com, 412-263-1999 or follow on Twitter @ShellyBradbury. Karen Kane: firstname.lastname@example.org or at 724-772-9180. Staff writers Andrew Goldstein and Molly Born contributed.