It was about 1:30 a.m. Thursday when the blue Chevrolet Malibu sped through a stop sign in Homewood, leading officers on a chase that would end with both the suspect and an officer critically wounded.
Less than 11 hours earlier, an off-duty state constable had shot and killed a man during a domestic dispute in the same neighborhood. And about 45 minutes before that, three people were injured by gunfire on nearby Brushton Avenue.
Pittsburgh police Officer Morgan Jenkins, an eight-year veteran of the force, remained in UPMC Presbyterian after he had surgery to remove a bullet fragment lodged near his spine. Officer Michelle Auge, a 13-year veteran of the force and a former Pittsburgh Passion football player, was released from the hospital after she was treated for two broken fingers and a fracture in one of the bones around her eye.
Their injuries marked a violent moment in a turbulent six-month period in which three officers have been struck by gunfire while working in the area patrolled by the Zone 5 station, widely considered the most dangerous in the city.
People have shot at 16 officers in 14 incidents since March of 2008, hitting seven of them. Six of those officers were struck while working in Zone 5, including the three who died in Stanton Heights in 2009.
"That three of them were hit non-fatally in the last six-month period is very abnormal," Zone 5 Cmdr. Tim O'Connor said. "We operate in a lot of challenging high-crime areas. We encounter a lot of people that have high-risk behaviors. It's just the nature of the territory."
A 24-year-old fugitive, James R. Hill, who grew up in Homewood, was in serious condition at UPMC Presbyterian after he underwent surgery for wounds he suffered when Officer Auge shot him at least three times.
Hill, who escaped last year from a halfway house in Braddock where he was serving time for aggravated assault, faces charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, assaulting a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, fleeing an officer and gun violations in connection with the shooting of Officer Jenkins.
Officers Jenkins and Auge, who happened to work together early Thursday morning, were patrolling about 1:30 a.m. when they saw Hill speed through a stop sign in Homewood. He led them on a half-mile car chase that ended when he crashed into a wall while trying to drive around a curve, police said.
Homicide Detective Dale Canofari wrote in a criminal complaint that both officers got out of their car. Officer Jenkins approached the Malibu with his gun drawn and ordered the driver, later identified as Hill, not to move his hands.
He and Officer Auge repeated their command.
Officer Jenkins put his gun in his holster and tried to take Hill into custody when Hill stepped toward the officers, grabbed Officer Jenkins' hands and shoved him, police said. The detective wrote that Hill got back in the car and shut the door on Officer Jenkins, pinning him while Hill tried to drive off.
Officer Auge grabbed the driver and the two officers told Hill he was under arrest, according to the complaint.
Police said Hill, who is 5-foot-10 and weighs 180 pounds, shoved and punched the officers while they tried to remove him from the car. When they got Hill out of the car, he shoved them against it, police said.
Officer Auge tried to shock Hill with a Taser but it did not have any effect, the detective wrote. During that part of the scuffle, Officer Auge broke two fingers on her left hand and fractured her orbital bone.
Hill ran away on Apple Street, police said, and Officer Jenkins followed behind him, while Officer Auge called for back-up.
Officer Auge chased behind the two while they ran between houses near Chaucer Street and onto a wooded hillside.
She told homicide detectives, who investigate officer shootings, that she heard two shots come from the area. She said she followed the two and when she caught sight of them Hill was on her left and Officer Jenkins was on her right.
She told detectives she saw a flash and heard a gunshot coming from where Hill was standing and then heard Officer Jenkins say, "I'm hit," according to the complaint. She fired at least three shots at Hill.
Officer Donald Snider, who parked his car on Apple Street when he was called to offer back-up, told detectives he also saw flashes coming from where Hill was standing. He said he ran down the hill, where he saw Hill lying next to a gun. Officer Jenkins was about 10 or 15 feet away.
Like the officers, Hill is expected to survive his injuries.
Court records show that Pittsburgh police arrested Hill in October 2007 and charged him with two gun violations, of which he was later found not guilty.
They arrested him again in January 2009, when he was charged with simple assault, resisting arrest, terroristic threats and another gun violation. He pleaded guilty to the gun violation.
While he was out on $10,000 bail, Pittsburgh police charged him with aggravated assault, terroristic threats and simple assault. He later pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault charge.
But before his guilty plea, he was again released on bail and was charged by Pittsburgh police with two firearms violations, receiving stolen property and marijuana possession. He again pleaded guilty.
Milton Raiford, the attorney serving as a counselor for the Hill family, declined to comment on the charges Hill faces or on his prior criminal history beyond saying, "It's been a tough upbringing for him, and his mother has done the best she could. ... Of course it's a difficult thing, though, when you have a boy who from the early age of 14 has known juvenile detention."
Mr. Raiford said the Hill family gathered in Homewood Thursday to pray for his recovery and that of the officers.
"There's still a lot of investigating to be doing in terms of what actually happened in the early morning hours," Mr. Raiford said. "Right now, that's secondary compared to the police officers' healing."
City police officers and public safety director Michael Huss gathered at UPMC Presbyterian Thursday morning to support Officers Jenkins and Auge. It was filled with their colleagues, many of whom had arrived at the end of their shifts in Zone 5.
Mr. Huss said he was alerted to the shootings about 1:30 a.m.
"It's just a page you don't want to get," he said.
Cmdr. O'Connor described Officer Jenkins, 33, who has worked in Zone 5 since he joined the force, as dependable and hard-working.
"He just comes out every day and he does his job. He doesn't do anything flashy," the commander said.
Officer Auge, 37, received a bureau citation for bravery at a 2009 awards ceremony. The previous summer, she and Officer Stephen Mayhle, who was killed while responding to a call in Stanton Heights, helped rescue a man during a fire.
Cmdr. O'Connor described her as "no-nonsense."
"These are the kind of people that are the backbone of this station," Cmdr. O'Connor said of Officers Jenkins and Auge. "Not everybody can work here, not everybody wants to work here. They're routinely shot at and people try to run them over and still they go out every day and do their jobs."
Liz Navratil: email@example.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. Staff writers Jonathan D. Silver and Molly Born contributed.