Young father killed in McKeesport home invasion

Fifth homicide this year in city leaves residents in shock, angry


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McKeesport recorded its fifth homicide of 2013 early Wednesday when a 24-year-old father of two was shot to death in a home invasion where his girlfriend also was wounded, police said.

The Allegheny County medical examiner's office identified the man as Brian Cook, and Mr. Cook's family identified the woman as his girlfriend, Stephanie Pavlovic. Mr. Cook died of a gunshot wound to the head, according to the medical examiner's office.

His girlfriend was shot in the hand and taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. Sgt. Scott Scherer of the county police homicide unit described her condition Wednesday afternoon as stable.

Officers responded to a call in the 2600 block of Versailles Avenue about 5:40 a.m., McKeesport police Capt. Tim Hanna said.

The couple were asleep when the incident started, he said, and it didn't appear that anything had been taken from the home. Sgt. Scherer said there was no sign of forced entry.

Investigators discovered valuable evidence, he said, and had "some strong leads" Wednesday afternoon. Another person was home at the time, the sergeant said, but he declined to elaborate.

Friends and relatives gathered on the street Wednesday morning and embraced one another, some shocked that yet another person close to them has died.

Through tears, they remembered Mr. Cook as a loving father to his 1-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. The baby was home during the home invasion, but police said both children are now safe with relatives.

"He was my baby. He was my only boy," Mr. Cook's mother, Darlene Cook, 52, said. "I'm in shock, and I don't know what to do."

Melissa McPherson, 19, clutched a picture of her and her brother and carried a rosary in one hand.

"He was a very good father," she said. "He was at home all the time with his son."

John Leggett, 23, described Mr. Cook as his best friend who he has known since the two were in elementary school. He said the young man was always home taking care of his children and didn't have any problems with anyone.

"I am so lost right now," Mr. Leggett said.

His mother, Deborah Leggett, 48, gave an impassioned declaration about violence in the city and said McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko needs to address the slayings.

The mayor could not be reached for comment.

"This makes no sense," she said. "Where is the mayor of McKeesport? Our kids are getting killed."

There were nine homicides in the city last year, according to the medical examiner's office.

County police are leading the investigation.

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Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede. First Published June 26, 2013 11:15 AM


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