McKeesport shooting suspect turns self in
Share with others:
A young McKeesport man who police said shot a high school classmate and fired upon responding officers during a Fourth of July home invasion surrendered to authorities on Tuesday to face charges including attempted homicide.
Aaron Gardner, 17, of McKeesport, was also charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and robbery after Allegheny County police said he and another man sparked a shootout outside a home in the 3300 block of Stewart Street.
A teenage girl, Alonna Mills, who identified Mr. Gardner as the gunman by looking at a photo from his Facebook page, told police she was home alone just before 1 p.m. when she heard someone breaking in and called 911. Two men entered the second-floor bedroom in which she was hiding and put a gun to her head, demanding money, Detective Daniel Mayer wrote in a complaint against Mr. Gardner. The men wore dark clothing, and their faces were partially masked by bandanas.
"She pleaded with them to take anything they wanted and she would not move or tell anyone what happened," the complaint said. She told the men she didn't know where the money was and pleaded for her life as one of them led her downstairs.
"As they walked, she asked 'Are you going to kill me?' to which he replied, 'I might,' " the complaint said.
Once in the living room, Ms. Mills decided to make a break for the front door and was shot in the arm. Three McKeesport officers -- Ryan Miller, James Taylor and Jon Harrison -- were outside when the screen door burst open and the bullet pierced its glass. Officer Miller raised his gun to return fire just as Ms. Mills ran out, saying she had been shot.
Officer Harrison then ran to the back door, where the armed men were running down the steps. He yelled for them to drop their weapons, but both refused, police said. Instead, one man, later identified as Mr. Gardner, raised his gun at Officer Harrison, who responded by firing a shot in his direction.
Hearing gunfire, Officer Miller ran behind the house, but by then the men were headed back toward the front. Officer Miller watched them run through the yard. One of the men "turned with the firearm in his hand," and Officer Miller fired two shots toward him, the criminal complaint says. He and Officer Taylor chased after the gunmen but lost sight of them near Dinsmore Street.
Ms. Mills told police she recognized Mr. Gardner as a classmate at McKeesport Area High School with whom she shared a lunch period. He surrendered alongside his attorney, who could not be reached for comment. The criminal complaint suggests county police have not identified a second suspect. Ms. Mills' injury was not life-threatening. The McKeesport officers were unharmed.
"It was a tragedy averted, there's no two ways about it," McKeesport Capt. Tim Hanna said. "We were lucky."
First Published July 11, 2012 12:00 am