Emotional farewell at shooting victim's service in Farrell
Zaire Brown, kisses his dog Leo on Tuesday at his mother's funeral. Services for Ka'Sandra Wade were held at the Greater Mount Zion Church of God in Christ in Farrell, where Wade grew up.
Pall bearers carry Ka'Sandra Wade''s casket from the Greater Mt. Zion Church of God in Christ Tuesday after her funeral in Farrell.
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FARRELL, Pa. -- The grief was audible.
The pastor read words intended to comfort, but the crying nearly drowned him out. Someone yelled, "My baby." Later, the sobbing would be accompanied by singing and clapping and cries of "Hallelujah."
It was an emotional final farewell when more than 150 friends and family members gathered in this small Mercer County town to hold a funeral service for 33-year-old Ka'Sandra Wade, who was found shot to death in her Larimer home on Jan. 1 and whose disconnected 911 call the night before is at the heart of an internal police investigation.
Slowly and in small groups, Ms. Wade's relatives walked their way up to the open casket. Ms. Wade's mother, Sharon Jordan, kissed her on the forehead.
Later, she would smile and cry while friends read kind words about Ms. Wade.
Quietly, many whispered and wondered how the relationship between Ms. Wade and her boyfriend, Anthony L. Brown -- by most accounts a friendly, upbeat man -- deteriorated in the past few months only to end in the most violent way possible -- with Mr. Brown confessing to killing her and then taking his own life in a standoff with Pittsburgh police.
"I don't have any answers for anybody," said Tyrone Steals, pastor at the Greater Mount Zion Church of God in Christ.
In Pittsburgh, Marcia Gray, who has a 9-year-old daughter with Mr. Brown, said she knew he had at least two guns that he kept under his pillow or in bags and went shooting at a range. But she also said he was not violent or threatening.
"I never dealt with anything like that. He was always cool," Ms. Gray, 50, of Highland Park said Tuesday. "He was a nice, sweet guy."
Ms. Gray said she met Mr. Brown around 2002 when they both worked at Duquesne University's food service operation. He was a cook. Ms. Wade worked there as well.
She said she did not know of Mr. Brown having any mental issues or alcohol or drug problems. She also did not know if the guns were legally registered.
A search did not reveal any criminal record for Mr. Brown in Pennsylvania or even a traffic ticket. And civil court records in Allegheny County did not show any evidence that he was the subject of a protection-from-abuse order, or PFA.
To Mr. Brown's coworkers everything seemed fine.
Mr. Brown, 51, was "always upbeat" while working as a part-time clerk at the state Liquor Control Board warehouse in the Strip District, said assistant manager Larry Reft. "He never showed any signs of anger or anything. Everyone would say the same."
Mr. Brown knew the first name of almost every tenant at the 19-unit apartment building on North Homewood Avenue, where he lived for almost 20 years and worked as a maintenance man for reduced rent, said building manager Jim Pierce.
Mr. Brown was industrious -- mowing the grass, shoveling the snow and helping out with odds and ends. During the standoff with Pittsburgh police, Mr. Brown said the owners had been so generous to him that he worried an exchange of gunfire would damage the building.
But those who heard details of Ms. Wade's relationship with Mr. Brown painted a less rosy picture.
Ms. Gray said she last saw Mr. Brown about a month ago, and he was complaining about car trouble. She said he had been unsuccessfully trying to get together with both his daughter and the 10-year-old son he had with Ms. Wade but he was having trouble reaching her.
"I guess they were fighting and she wasn't gonna let him see [his son]."
Ms. Gray said she did not know any specifics about their relationship other than it was rocky.
"She was trying to get away from him," Ms. Gray said. "I wish she would have done a PFA."
She thought about it at least once, said Maryellen Deckard, regional director of Action United, where Ms. Wade worked part time and was scheduled to move to a full-time position on Jan. 2.
Ms. Deckard said Ms. Wade was always quiet and smiling so it came as a shock when an employee called a few months ago to say that Ms. Wade had confided in her that Mr. Brown had threatened her with a machete and a gun.
A coworker took Ms. Wade to get a protection from abuse order, but the line was long and she left before obtaining one because she needed to pick up her son, Ms. Deckard said. She moved out of the home she was sharing with Mr. Brown a few days later.
Ms. Wade's coworkers have spent the past week reaching out to Ms. Wade's family. Ms. Deckard was one of three friends who spoke at Ms. Wade's 11/2-hour funeral service. She read from Psalm 28 -- the passage marked in Ms. Wade's Bible when she died. Another coworker told the family she wanted them to know how much Ms. Wade had been adored in the office.
And another woman read from two poems she wrote when she found out Ms. Wade had died: "If love alone could have saved you, you never would have died," she said. "My life will go on, and of you I won't forget."
Donations benefiting Ms. Brown's son can be made to: The Zaire Brown Trust Fund at any PNC Bank.
First Published January 9, 2013 12:00 am