1 Woman Killed, Another Injured In Downtown Stabbing

Aug 8, 2019

Police have arrested and charged a man for fatally stabbing one woman and injuring another downtown Thursday morning.

In an evening statement, police identified the man as James Wyatt, 23, of McKeesport. He has been charged with homicide and aggravated assault.

Pittsburgh Public Safety spokesperson Chris Togneri said an officer on patrol noticed a woman in medical distress at a Sixth Avenue bus stop, which is located across the street from the Burlington Coat Factory. While assessing her condition, he said, a man approached her and assaulted her.

The bus stop at Sixth Avenue downtown, where the stabbings occurred.
Credit An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

The suspect then approached another woman walking down the street and attacked her, too, he said.

"The officer ... got him into custody and then rendered aid to the woman at the bus stop," Togneri said.

The first woman died as a result of her injuries at UPMC Mercy Hospital. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner later identified her as Janice Purdue-Dance, 61, of Erie. Despite early reports of the woman wearing a hijab, Tognieri said she was not wearing any kind of religious clothing, but the second woman who was injured may have been wearing a hijab. Police said the second woman, who has not been identified, is listed in stable condition. 

The attack did not appear to be racially motivated, Tognieri added.

"It appears that there was a random stabbing downtown and luckily we had a police officer right there, at the right moment, who immediately got the suspect into custody," Togneri said.

Before being charged and taken to Allegheny County Jail, police questioned Wyatt. The bureau said there is currently no evidence to suggest the attack was racially or religiously motivated.

“We will conduct a complete and thorough investigation of this tragic incident to include motive,” Major Crimes Commander Victor Joseph said in a statement.

WESA's Lucy Perkins, An-Li Herring, Chris Potter and Sarah Kovash contributed to this report.