Block watch hears the latest in what was happening in their neighborhoods
May 14, 2019
Pressed into service early when the Carrick/Overbrook Block Watch’s speaker was unable to attend the May 6 meeting, Zone 3 officer Christine Luffey began by leading a discussion concerning unruly juveniles in and around Phillips Park.
The same group of juveniles have appeared in a lot of police reports, she said.
Officer Luffey attributed their conduct to having “little parental guidance.” She plans on reaching out to their mothers, “from one mother to another” to let them know they are failing their child and those children could end up in the Allegheny County Jail.
She hoped to be able to reach them before they ended up in corrections for years at a time.
During a Red Cross Sound the Alarm free smoke alarm program in Carrick last week, her sergeant learned the same group of kids was shooting squirrels with a pellet gun. The same group was firing BB guns at people on another occasion.
“That’s aggravated assault,” Officer Luffey said. She added the offense carries a fine of up to $1,000 for discharging an air gun or firearm in the City of Pittsburgh.
“I’ve had success in the past,” she said of having a “heart to heart” with parents.
Generally, the officer brings information on some of the cases she feels block watch members would like to learn more about.
Responding officers found the man in a large pool of blood from a wound in his buttocks. While multiple police units were canvasing the area, another call came in for a second man shot nearby on Merritt Avenue.
On Merritt, police found the second man had been shot in the leg. Both victims were transported to UPMC Mercy Hospital in stable condition.
Officer Luffey said neither victim was able to identify their attacker. However, she added, it’s getting easier to solve many of the crime in the area with all the surveillance cameras.
The second case presented took place on the evening of April 25 in the 2600 block of Brownsville Road. Police responded to a call of several people screaming at each other in an apartment. In the apartment building, the police could hear loud voices coming from one unit.
The woman who answered the door told the police she had multiple roommates, but didn’t know how many or who they were. When the officers entered the apartment, they encountered a man trying to exit and prevented him from leaving.
They noted the odor of marijuana was “tolerable” outside the apartment but “overwhelming” once inside and the occupants were charged with drug offenses. When the police walked into the bedroom, they saw a gun, stopped and called for a search warrant.
When the search warrant arrived, the police found and removed marijuana, three firearms including an assault rifle, ammunition, multiple digital scales, sandwich bags and $1,588 is cash. Charges were filed against four occupants of the apartment, two men and two women, ages 18 to 24.
“Our detectives are trying very hard,” Officer Luffey said. “We know there is a problem there.”
The next case discussed happened on April 30 and was a result of a tip the police received through a block watch.
After receiving the tip, detectives conducted undercover surveillance on an address on Westmont Avenue. The tip said there was “an incredible amount of people” and vehicle coming and going from the address and identified one car in particular as coming numerous times a day.
Officer Luffey said on this evening, just as the SWAT team was pulling up the street one way, the suspect’s car was approaching from the other direction. The suspect, with a passenger in the car, began backing up slowly, wrecking into a police car.
The passenger next to the suspect tried to exit the exit the car before it came to a stop and ended up under the vehicle, according to Officer Luffey.
In the house, police found more than nine bricks of heroin, additional stamp bags of heroin, marijuana and Crystal Meth along with multiple cell phones and digital scales and $729 in cash.
Eight people were arrested.
“It was a big bust,” Officer Luffey said.
“We’re doing what we can.”
The final case she highlighted was also from April 26. An off-duty Zone 6 officer was in a bar near Rt. 51 and Rt. 88 when two people came in “bragging” about making $200 to $400 a day “working.” The off-duty officer reported the couple to Zone 3 because the job they were working at was panhandling.
The couple was cited for Aggressive Panhandling. Officer Luffey said panhandling becomes aggressive when they walk in the roadway and knock on car windows asking for money. Before they were cited, the police had already asked them not to panhandle in the street.
Officer Luffey asked those attending to not give the panhandlers any money, “you’re not helping them.”
The following night, police were checking the rear of Berg Place when they noticed the male panhandler from the previous day. When they shined a spotlight on him, he took off running and ignored orders to stop.
Police chased him into Birmingham Cemetery where he was tackled. The police found five empty stamp bags and one full one on him along with a syringe. They also found additional empty stamp bags where he was found at Berg Place.
He was charged with possession of a controlled substance.
In ending her presentation, Officer Luffey said, “If you see something, say something.”
The next Carrick/Overbrook Block Watch meeting will be on June 3.