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Garfield shooter dead after hours of gunfire, evacuations in neighborhood

A Pittsburgh Police SWAT vehicle.
Keith Srakocic
A Pittsburgh Police SWAT vehicle.

Hours after an armed man who reportedly faced eviction proceedings began firing Wednesday morning from inside the home in Garfield — prompting law enforcement officers to return fire — Pittsburgh Public Safety officials said the man was dead.

"We believe [the man] was neutralized in the gunfight," said Pittsburgh Police Chief Larry Scirotto during a news conference Wednesday night, shortly after city emergency medical services officials pronounced the man dead at 5:08 p.m.

"We did give him every opportunity to surrender . . . That's why it took the amount of time time that it took," the chief said. "[We provided] ample opportunity for peaceful surrender. That [outreach] wasn't met with that outcome."

The man's identity has not been released or officially confirmed, and investigators declined to release it at the news conference. Police said they believe no bystanders or neighbors were injured despite the "volleys" of shots exchanged. Pennsylvania State Police will lead an investigation of the shooting, Scirotto said.

The gunfight and a resulting hours-long siege began around 11 a.m. Wednesday near the intersection of Mathilda and Broad streets, just off of Penn Avenue near Allegheny Cemetery, and a few blocks from UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

The man opened fire from inside the home on Broad Street after seven deputies from the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office arrived to serve the eviction notice, Allegheny County Sheriff Kevin Kraus said at the news conference.

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The sheriff's office had obtained some information about the person inside the home and held a meeting to plan and consider a strategy for serving the eviction notice there before the deputies did so, Kraus said. He declined to specify what that information involved, but he said it "certainly wasn't anything super . . . out of the ordinary.

The office did increase the number of deputies sent to serve the notice to seven, he said, and all of them wore body armor when they approached the house.

"We certainly didn't expect what we were up against when we arrived," Kraus said. "Certainly, [there are] factors that go into these types of things we do. We evaluate and we respond accordingly, but we certainly had no information whatsoever that this individual was this dangerous, or that there were firearms in the house."

When the deputies arrived, they took up positions outside the house before attempting to reach the man, the sheriff said.

"Once they made contact [with the man], obviously things changed dramatically," he said. "They were scrambling for cover, they were fired upon. They returned fire, and like I said, there was a pretty lengthy gun battle until [Pittsburgh Police SWAT officers] arrived [and] stabilized the scene."

Witnesses said more gunfire erupted after they initially heard what sounded like hundreds of shots earlier. Kraus said the man "had a lot of ammunition in that house," prompting deputies and police to call themselves for more ammunition. He declined to identify the type of firearm used by the man in the house.

The gunfire, which erupted again at intervals through the afternoon, prompted neighbors to hide in their homes and basements until authorities could safely evacuate those homes and lead those people out of danger. A sergeant who led the eviction detail injured his head when he "dove over a partition" to avoid the initial shots fired at his team, Kraus said, but he needed only a few stitches later, Kraus said.

The man fired from the first- and second-floor windows as well as through the walls of the home, Kraus said. Despite the amount of gunfire exchanged throughout the day, no one else was hurt, he said.

A large police presence — including city uniformed and plainclothes officers, Allegheny County Police, state troopers, agents from the state Attorney General's office, the FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive, and other agencies — swarmed into the neighborhood to secure it during multiple attempts to persuade the man to come out of the house. A state police spokesperson said drones were also used to fly over and assess the scene around the house.

Officers made multiple attempts to contact and reach the man in the house but weren't able to persuade him to come out peacefully or even respond to them, Kraus and Scirotto said. But both men expressed gratitude for the collaboration between police agencies, and that the incident resulted in no other deaths or serious injuries for officers, neighbors or bystanders who were nearby during the episodes of gunfire.

"All of those tactical resources were deployed throughout this incident to bring it to the resolution we came to tonight," Scirotto said. "That coordinated effort saved many lives, many officers' lives, in a very tense and rapidly uncertain environment. With that, the officers preserved life, preserved life of the neighbors, preserved life of those living next to that structure and obviously [the lives] our officers."

In a statement Wednesday night, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey also expressed thanks to law enforcement officers "who worked to keep this neighborhood and our city safe," as well as members of a trauma response team working in Garfield to support people there. He asked for prayer for the Garfield community, calling it "a peaceful neighborhood that was home to an unfortunate tragedy today."

"As a city, we are committed to caring for all those who have been harmed, and we will continue working over the next several days to connect this neighborhood to mental health and trauma support services," the mayor added.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Updated: August 23, 2023 at 8:21 PM EDT
Updates with comments from city safety officials.
Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
Cindi Lash joined Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting in 2021 from Missouri Lawyers Media, a subsidiary of BridgeTower Media, where she began her tenure as editor and regional editor in 2018. Before joining BridgeTower, she served as editor-in-chief at Pittsburgh Magazine for four years, and as regional editor of local news startup She previously spent 20 years as a reporter and editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.