After Ka'Sandra Wade's estranged boyfriend -- and the father of her 10-year-old son -- threatened to kill her with a gun and machete, co-workers helped her move this fall, her employer said.
Ms. Wade was optimistic about another fresh start: The new year was to bring the 33-year-old and recent Kaplan Career Institute graduate a full-time position as an administrative assistant where she had been working part time, said Maryellen Deckard of Action United Pittsburgh.
Instead, her boyfriend, Anthony L. Brown, 51, shot her to death Tuesday night at her apartment in Larimer, police said. Hours later, as his apartment a mile-and-a-half away in North Point Breeze was surrounded by Pittsburgh police SWAT officers and negotiators, he fatally shot himself in the head, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner's office.
"She was trying to get out of that abusive relationship," Ms. Deckard, also a friend, said. "She was afraid. She just didn't get away far enough."
Ms. Wade's death marks the city's first homicide of 2013, police said.
Mr. Brown refused to come out of his apartment at 208 North Homewood Ave. when police arrived shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday, Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said. Through the door, Mr. Brown told police he had killed his girlfriend.
A SWAT team and negotiators surrounded the building for several hours before a robot with a camera allowed police to see Mr. Brown had shot himself. The medical examiner's office said he was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:47 a.m. Wednesday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Ms. Wade's family had asked police Tuesday to check on her at her apartment in the 500 block of Lowell Street after not hearing from her, police said. The medical examiner's office said she died of gunshot wounds to the head and neck.
Sharon Jordan, Ms. Wade's mother who will become primary guardian for the couple's son, said her daughter told her the abuse started a couple of months ago.
"She was a good person. She was always there for me when I needed her and vice versa," Ms. Jordan said.
The couple had a long and complicated relationship.
According to court records, Mr. Brown petitioned the Family Division of Allegheny County Common Pleas Court in 2005 for custody of their son, claiming Ms. Wade was not allowing him to see the boy, then 2 years old.
"It is in the child's best interest to have a relationship with his father," Mr. Brown wrote.
The couple were ordered to attend an education seminar, which neither attended, prompting cancellation of a later mediation session and dismissal of the case.
Ms. Wade and her son moved to Lowell Street this fall to end the relationship, Ms. Deckard said. Ms. Wade started at Action United about nine months ago, first as an intern before being hired part time as an administrative assistant, and was set to start full time in that role Wednesday. Ms. Jordan said her daughter, an aspiring accountant, was pursuing further education at Kaplan.
Ms. Deckard said Action United plans to organize an event in her honor.
"She shouldn't have died," Ms. Deckard said, "and she definitely shouldn't have died in vain."
Molly Born: email@example.com, 412-263-1944 and on Twitter: @borntolede. First Published January 3, 2013 5:00 AM