A man shot his girlfriend in a hotel near PNC Park this morning during an argument over crack cocaine and initially tried to disguise his actions by saying she'd shot herself, Pittsburgh police said.
Police said Billy Long, 68, of Larimer, called 911 about 3:30 a.m. and reported that his 50-year-old girlfriend, Dawn Simmons, shot herself inside Room 804 of the Residence Inn on General Robinson Street.
But police said his story changed several times during a 40-minute interview with detectives.
According to a criminal complaint, Mr. Long said first that he was in the bathroom preparing a bath for Ms. Simmons when he heard a gunshot. A few minutes later, Mr. Long told a sergeant he "accidentally shot Simmons with a revolver after telling her that he would unload the weapon for her," according to the complaint.
In a written statement he agreed to provide for police, Mr. Long wrote that Ms. Simmons heard noises and grabbed the gun from her luggage.
He wrote that when he tried to help her unload the gun, it went off and struck her in the side, according to the complaint.
But police said Ms. Simmons told medics while they were driving her to Allegheny General Hospital that Mr. Long shot her "because I wouldn't smoke crack with him."
Detectives hoped to interview Ms. Simmons but were told this morning that she was on a ventilator and could not yet speak with them. She was listed in critical condition this morning and is expected to survive.
Inside the hotel room, police said they found a five-shot revolver that was not listed in Mr. Long's name but had not been reported stolen. They also said they found wire mesh and a broken glass crack pipe.
Police said Ms. Simmons had been living in the hotel because her house was uninhabitable after a burglary reported there in May, when she returned from vacation. No charges have been filed in connection with the burglary.
Police also said Ms. Simmons and her boyfriend have a violent, tumultuous relationship.
According to the criminal complaint, detectives spoke with Ms. Simmons at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in February, when she told them Mr. Long forced her at gunpoint into his black Ford Explorer and took her to a motel in Monroeville, where he forced her to have sex with her, hit her and choked her.
Mr. Long has not been charged in connection with that incident.
Police said they found Mr. Long's SUV parked on General Robinson Street when they responded to the shooting and towed it to search it.