A man facing eviction opened fire at officers from inside a Pittsburgh home Wednesday, shooting down police drones and prompting evacuations in the neighborhood, in a gun battle and siege that lasted much of the day and ended with authorities saying he was dead.
City emergency medical service responders pronounced the man dead shortly after 5 p.m. after the hours-long standoff in the city’s Garfield neighborhood, Pittsburgh Public Safety reported. Officials did not immediately identify the man or elaborate on the circumstances of his death.
Allegheny County Sheriff Kevin Kraus said deputies went to the residence to serve the eviction warrant and tried to talk to the occupant, but when they finally made contact at the door, they abruptly came under fire.
“They began to take cover, return fire — engaged in a pretty significant gun battle,” Kraus said.
One deputy was initially reported as having been shot but actually sustained only a superficial head injury “when he dove over a partition trying to take cover while he was taking fire and returning fire,” Kraus said.
The seven deputies were wearing body armor but “we certainly didn’t expect this,” the sheriff added.
“We certainly had no information whatsoever that this individual was this dangerous or that there were firearms in the house,” he said. He commended the response of law enforcement, saying, “nobody’s hurt, and everybody’s going home to their families, so we’re certainly thankful for that.”
City SWAT team members later arrived and took over.
Witnesses said they heard what sounded like hundreds of shots beginning at about 11 a.m., and more gunfire erupted hours later.
A large number of police and other first responders deployed to the scene, just a few blocks from a children’s hospital.
Police Chief Larry Scirotto said the joint response by personnel from SWAT, state and county law enforcement, the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “saved many officers’ lives in a very tense and rapidly uncertain environment” and also protected the neighborhood.
The shooter was given “every opportunity” to surrender peacefully, he added, and that was why the situation “took the amount of time that it took.”
Drones were used to try to communicate and to scope out the home, but “every time we had deployed one of those, three or four instances, it was disabled by gunfire,” Scirotto said.
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