South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

Carrick learns of summer spike in the crime rate in the neighborhood


Last updated 7/10/2019 at 8:08pm

Multiple shootings and robberies in Carrick led to a busy month of June for public safety officials, as Zone 3 police said warmer weather typically results in a spike in crime rate across the community.

The details surrounding these incidents, and several others, were shared with residents during Zone 3 officer Christine Luffey’s monthly crime report at last week’s meeting of the Carrick/Overbrook Block Watch at 25 Carrick Avenue.

First on the report was an arrest made as a result of multiple block watch tips from last month’s meeting.

In early June, several block watch members complained about squatters and drug activity in the vacant Berg Place apartment building. Officers investigated the tips on June 4 and discovered multiple pieces of plywood had been removed from the windows of Berg Place.

When police entered, they encountered a man living inside the building who admitted to officers he had marijuana in his pocket. When police attempted to take it, the man allegedly became belligerent and refused to follow the officer’s orders to sit on the floor. He was arrested and charged with trespassing and drug possession.

“I take notes, and when I get to the station, my first point of business is to send my supervisors notes from the block watch,” officer Luffey said. “They are truly listening to your concerns.”

Officer Luffey went on to discuss two incidents that took place over three days at Norbert Personal Care on St. Norberts Street.

Officers responded to a report of theft at the nursing home on June 11 at 5 p.m. A female employee said credit cards were stolen from her purse after it was briefly left unattended. Police determined another employee was responsible for the theft after a stolen card was used to order pizza. The suspect was arrested and terminated from employment.

Two days later, Norbert Personal Care employees called 9-1-1 to report an armed robbery. According to the report, employees were sitting in a breakroom when an African American male wearing a black jogging suit and black ski mask entered the room and pointed a gun at the back of an employee’s head. A second male remained in the hallway.

The suspects instructed employees to fill a backpack with various prescription medications. Officials estimate over 500 pills were stolen. The incident is under investigation.

On June 15, police heard gunshots at the intersection of Sprucewood and Leolyn streets around 5:30 a.m. According to witnesses, a black minivan with a silver roof rack was seen speeding down Leolyn Street shortly after the shots were fired.

Police later discovered five bullet casings and several bullet holes on the door of a residence in the 1600 block of Leolyn Street. According to police, the resident was not aware of any gunshots and had just recently moved into the property. The incident is under investigation.

The second shooting occurred on June 19 at 1:43 a.m. in the 100 block of Birmingham Avenue. When police arrived, the medics were attending to a male victim who sustained a gunshot wound to the lung. Police said the victim is in fair condition, but has also been uncooperative. The incident is also under investigation.

A third shooting took place on June 23 at 4 p.m. and resulted in two arrests. Police responded to reports of shots fired on Briggs Street in Overbrook. While processing the scene, another shooting was reported on East Woodford Avenue. This time, a male victim was shot in the leg. Police were able to identify and arrest two suspects.

Officer Luffey also shared details of two robberies that occurred at the end of June.

Police responded to a report of a robbery on June 22 in the 2200 block of Brownsville Road. According to the report, the victim said he was standing at a bus stop when an African American juvenile pulled a revolver from his waistband and demanded money. The suspect took $63 and the victim’s cell phone. The incident is still under investigation.

Another robbery occurred on June 24 at 1 p.m. in the 2100 block of Lucina Avenue. A witness nearby called the police after he heard a woman screaming for help. When police arrived, the victim said she was approached by an African American male between the ages of 18 and 20 wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt. The suspect allegedly pulled out a handgun and demanded the victim’s purse and phone.

“I can’t stress this enough,” officer Luffey said. “If you are a victim of a robbery, please don’t try to be a hero in a situation like that. Your purse, wallet, or phone can be replaced, but you cannot be replaced.”

Following the crime report, officer Luffey asked those in attendance if there were any problems in the neighborhood that she could take back to the police station.

Among the concerns raised were an increase in drug activity near the intersection of Valera Avenue and Almont Street, an oversized truck parked on Westmont Avenue that is impacting driver visibility, and speeding vehicles on multiple streets.

A resident also complained about neighbors feeding feral cats. Officer Luffey noted Carrick has a very large population of feral cats and residents should follow up with volunteer resources from the Homeless Cat Management Team (HCMT) to help address concerns.

Following officer Luffey, Carrick Community Council (CCC) board president Sherry Miller Brown announced the CCC has been officially approved as a Recognized Community Organization (RCO) by the City of Pittsburgh.

Ms. Brown also announced the organization will hold its first Carrick Design Development Review Meeting to review a new proposed Dollar General store on the site of the currently vacant Long John Silvers building at 2417 Brownsville Road. The meeting will take place on July 15 at 25 Carrick Avenue.

At the end of the meeting, block watch organizer Donna McManus announced the annual Communities Against Crime event will take place on Tuesday, July 30 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Dairy District Pavillion. This year, attendees will be able to look inside several emergency vehicles from various city departments including police, fire, EMS, bomb squad and the Department of Public Works.

The next Carrick / Overbrook Block Watch meeting will be August 5 at 25 Carrick Avenue. On September 9, the block watch and the CCC will hold a combined public meeting.


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