South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Jennifer Szweda Jordan
Contributing Writer 

Block watch hears about Berg Place apts., group of young people involved in muggings


Last updated 9/16/2014 at 5:34am

Three Kirk Avenue children set fire to the clothing of homeless people who were squatting in the abandoned 2502 Berg Place apartment building on Aug. 16, police said at the September Carrick-Overbrook Block Watch meeting.

The property was in the news in April after residents were hastily evicted due to dozens of health code violations stemming from owner Davin Gartley’s alleged neglect, including shutting off a water supply. Additionally, at the time, a pit filled with raw sewage filled up outside the building, which housed a number of refugee families and other vulnerable populations.

Mr. Gartley, 38, of Mt. Lebanon, remains out of jail as his case continues. District Judge Richard G. King has assessed Mr. Gartley thousands of dollars of fines, but has given him extensions of time to pay.

Mr. Gartley was recently in the news for drug charges after police arrested him in South Side and said he failed sobriety tests, and cocaine residue was found in his vehicle. In the most recent case of the children starting a fire on the porch of the apartment where a homeless man and woman were keeping their clothes, Mr. Gartley is a victim, said Officer Christine Luffey.

In other reports, Officer Luffey said separate muggings in Carrick led her to ask the audience at the monthly community Block Watch meeting whether they think an organized group of young males and females are regularly looking for victims.

A group of people matching similar descriptions twice attempted robbery, in one case beating a man who was going to an ATM at 2:48 a.m. on Sept. 4. In the second case, a teenage boy riding his bike around 10 p.m. was the victim of an attempted robbery by a group of people, one of whom displayed a firearm.

Officer Luffey also reported police arrested 21-year-old Darrin Hardy, Jr., and 22-year-old William Ishmael Fletcher after an undercover officer bought narcotics using specially made bills. A search warrant served on August 12 in the 1700 block of Concordia resulted in police finding 43 bags of heroin.

Officer Luffey announced this year’s “Get Stuffed With Love” campaign in which officers deliver Thanksgiving dinners to anyone who asks, regardless of income requirements.

 “I would like us to get the word out about this,” she said. “I would like to cut it off... by November 15, I would like to have the majority of calls. I believe last year we delivered over 2,000 meals. If you want one or you know of someone, let me know.”

The new principal at Concord Elementary School, Michael Perella, also spoke to the block watch audience.

In response to a question about how the school communicates information about emergency lockdowns, Mr. Perella said policy is being evaluated and will be forthcoming. In response to other questions, he said about 500 students attend the school, and around 100 of those students are nonnative English speakers.

Primarily, the students, also categorized as “English as a second-language,” are refugees from Nepal or Bhutan. The second largest group of ESL students are originally Spanish-speaking.

Mr. Perella said the school is seeking volunteers, and clearances to work with children in other schools and churches can be transferred. He also said the school just received permission to post events on an online calendar, so that will be available soon. 

In response to a question about what people should do if they see children not in school on school days, Mr. Perella said to contact the school secretary at 412-529-7755.

The Carrick Community Council will hold the following activities, according to John Rudiak:

--Landscape mulching party at Madeline Street and Brownsville Road, Tuesday, Sept. 16., 6-8 p.m.

--Litter pickup, meet behind Carrick Shopping Center, Thursday, Sept. 18 , 5:30 p.m.

--Halloween Costume Party for children up to 12 years old, Carrick High School Cafeteria, Saturday, Oct. 25, 12-2 p.m.

-Carrick Community Council year-in-review and board nominations and elections, Concord Elementary School, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m.


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