Five off-duty Pittsburgh police officers fired shots at a car driving erratically at high speed on a busy section of East Carson Street early today, seriously wounding the vehicle's two occupants, Police Chief Nate Harper said.
The incident began at 1:39 a.m. with a chase of the vehicle by Homestead police for a traffic violation on Eighth Avenue, It ended on the South Side less than 10 minutes later, when the green sedan plowed into a car in front of it after the shots were fired, Chief Harper said.
Pittsburgh police had taken over pursuit of the vehicle when it entered city limits on Carson but the chief said they backed off because of safety concerns in an area of the South Side that bustles on weekend nights. When the car struck parked vehicles and continued at a high speed, Chief Harper said, off-duty officers who had been monitoring the event on police radios opened fire.
A 37-year-old male driving the car and his female passenger were both struck by bullets before the car stopped in a collision with a vehicle in front of it in the 1300 block of Carson. The two individuals were hospitalized, but the chief declined to provide their names. He said there were no weapons or drugs in the car, and the only prior offenses he knew of for the driver were for traffic violations in Georgia.
While Chief Harper said he knew of no other injuries, he noted a female who had been a bystander called police to say she believed she had been grazed by a bullet, though she did not seek medical attention.
He said an investigation of the entire incident will take place while the five officers are on paid administrative leave.
The response to the incident was complicated, Chief Harper said, by the high volume of pedestrians in the area at the time, which was shortly before the 2 a.m. closing for bars. Some of them became unruly when instructed by police to re-enter the taverns for their safety, but the chief said none of them were arrested.
Gary Rotstein: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-11255. First Published January 13, 2013 11:00 AM