South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Jennifer Szweda Jordan
Contributing Writer 

Carrick residents learn fate of group home, latest crime trends


Last updated 5/11/2015 at 6:16pm

The Circle C Carrick Group Home where two teen boys fatally beat another resident has been closed. Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak made this announcement at the Carrick-Overbrook Block Watch on May 4.

 Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services revoked the Circle C agency’s license, saying it showed “gross incompetence, negligence, or misconduct in operating the facility or agency.”

 Rehabilitation group homes for children and adults are a frequent complaint among residents in the block watch.

 The Carrick Group Hope was one of four homes run by Circle C. It was intended for troubled 12-18 year-old males to offer a structured therapeutic setting. Some came to the agency from juvenile probation and/or Children, Youth, and Family Services.

In January, a teen-ager died after being beaten by two other kids at the center. Police say the victim, Nicholas Grant, had thrown a vacuum cleaner at 15-year-old Yusuf Shepard. Shepard then held him while a third person, 16-year-old Malik Crosby beat him with a vacuum cleaner until unconscious.

 In other news at the meeting, Community Police Officer Christine Luffey detailed several drug arrests.

 “We’re going to continue with the war on crime and the war on drugs,” she said.

 One arrest followed several heroin overdoses--two fatal—in April in the Pittsburgh area.

 Justin Robinson, 28, and Raeann Gonzalez, 27 were arrested after being stopped outside their home on Leolyn Street on April 16 with heroin. More than 71 bundles of heroin were confiscated overall, some of it from a hairbrush.

Mr. Robinson “had a hairbrush and he was really holding on to that hairbrush, gripping onto it almost for life,” Officer Luffey said. And when police “ended up taking a closer look at it, they found heroin hidden in that hairbrush.”

 Another arrest for heroin took place April 21. Officer Luffey said police could see from outside the home bags stamped with names that typically are labels for heroin. Three adults were arrested in the house. Additionally, police contacted child protective services because there were children present in what the officer called “deplorable living conditions” including broken plumbing and a toilet being used even though it didn’t work, dog feces throughout the home, stacks of dirty dishes and laundry.

 In a related announcement, Councilwoman Rudiak pointed out City Council will hold a roundtable meeting on May 26 at 1:30 p.m. to discuss the heroin crisis. She said it will focus on a shift in thinking from heroin largely as a criminal problem, to how it can be treated as a public health problem.

 Finally, in an odd twist at the meeting, businessman Dan Rolland attended to help prevent crime, but was accused of endangering the community’s welfare himself by leaving a large truck parked outside his shop.

 “That vehicle legally shouldn’t be there,” said resident Bill Warnock, pointing out the truck is in a 30-minute loading zone.

Mr. Warnock and other residents said Mr. Rolland’s box-style truck parked on Brownsville Road prevents drivers from seeing and turning safely onto or from Belplain Street. Rolland uses the truck for his business Dreamline Estate, which hauls and re-sells household goods.

Mr. Rolland said he’d like to move the truck to the side of his building, but low-hanging cable wires prevent that. He recommended people simply be more careful around the truck.

 “I know it’s difficult but there’s certain rules of the road you’ve got to abide by, and one is to be careful,” Mr. Rolland said.

 One resident, a regular pedestrian along Brownsville, spoke up for Mr. Rolland, saying a more significant problem at the intersection is the speed of drivers who disregard the crosswalk near where the truck sits.

 Councilwoman Rudiak says she’s investigating crosswalks that incorporate artwork or bright colors that might help decrease drivers’ speeds.


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