Penn Hills Teacher Killed By Police Remembered As ‘Dedicated’ To His Students

Aug 7, 2019

Police shot and killed a Penn Hills High School teacher who they say pointed a gun at them outside his home.

Allegheny County Police say Shaler Township officers responded to a report about a man behaving erratically on Tuesday afternoon. His wife was outside and told officers the man had access to firearms.

Police say 49-year-old Donald Babbit came out of the home and ignored commands as he advanced while pointing the handgun at them. Three officers opened fire. Babbit was wounded and taken to a hospital, where he died.

“At this point in the investigation, it is not clear what caused the man to behave in this fashion,” according to a statement from Allegheny County Police.

According to Babbit's Facebook profile, he was a math teacher at the high school. 

School board president Erin Vechhio said the erratic behavior described by police was not in character for Babbit. She said she’d known him for more than 20 years and described him as “a wonderful teacher” who went above and beyond for his students.

“He dedicated himself to these kids,” she said. “He did everything possible to make sure they got the best education they could get. And he was a friend to them, and anytime they needed him he was there.”

Some took to Twitter to share their memories of Babbit. 

The district said in a message on its website that he had "the distinct reputation among students, families and colleagues as being an exceptional teacher."

It is with deep regret that the Penn Hills School District shares the unexpected passing of PHHS teacher Don Babbit earlier today. Don was a beloved member of our staff and had the distinct reputation among students, families, and colleagues as being an exceptional teacher. He will be missed.

Grief counselors will be on site in the PHHS cafeteria Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday this week from 10 am - 3 pm for any student, staff, or community member who would like to stop by.  Local Reverend Jay Mitlo is also expected to be on site Wednesday and Friday at these same times to offer additional support.

Vechhio said the entire Penn Hills community is in mourning, and that students were calling her last night upon hearing about Babbit’s death.

“They just couldn’t believe it.”