In a harrowing turn of events, a tense standoff in the Garfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh came to a tragic conclusion as the suspect, identified as William Hardison, lost his life during a confrontation with law enforcement. The incident was ignited by an attempt to serve an eviction notice, sending shockwaves through the community and leaving a trail of gunfire in its wake.
Pittsburgh Public Safety authorities were plunged into action on Wednesday morning when an "extremely active" shooting situation was reported in Garfield. Gunshots echoed through the area, estimated to have reached into the hundreds, prompting an urgent response from local law enforcement and state police. Authorities urged residents to stay clear of the 4800 block of Broad Street and North Mathilda Street as they grappled with the unfolding crisis.
The violent encounter commenced when officers from the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office arrived to serve an eviction notice at the residence. Tragically, their mission was met with a barrage of gunfire from the occupant, resulting in chaos and injury. A sergeant leading the detail sustained a minor non-gunfire related injury while maneuvering to evade the incoming shots, underscoring the perilous nature of the situation.
Pittsburgh Police Chief Larry Scirotto revealed that the suspect demonstrated a brazen disregard for law enforcement, firing upon officers and even managing to down three police drones during the protracted standoff. The scene was punctuated by sporadic gunfire, as captured during a live interview with a neighbor, serving as a haunting backdrop to the unfolding narrative.
In a daring display of courage, officers managed to rescue a neighbor from the crossfire, ensuring their safety amid the chaos. Dramatic aerial footage showcased the moment when the individual emerged from their home, guided to safety by SWAT personnel and shielded in an armored vehicle.
William Hardison's identity was later confirmed as the central figure in this tragic incident. Court records unveiled that an eviction process targeting Hardison was scheduled for the fateful Wednesday morning on Broad Street. The home, which had changed ownership earlier in the year, was owned by an individual believed to be Hardison's father. The motives and circumstances leading to this alarming turn of events remain under investigation.
The scale of the incident prompted a massive law enforcement response, with a multitude of police vehicles descending upon the scene. The Allegheny County SWAT team and Pennsylvania State Police were summoned to aid local authorities in containing the crisis. Even the White House was informed, with President Joe Biden being briefed on the evolving situation.
Sheriff Kevin Kraus of Allegheny County expressed his shock at the intensity of the confrontation, describing a relentless exchange of gunfire and the discovery of a significant stockpile of ammunition within Hardison's residence. The incident leaves the community grappling with grief and questions, as authorities work tirelessly to piece together the sequence of events leading to this devastating outcome.
In Kraus' perspective, it is believed that Hardison fired shots at officers from both the first and second floors of the house, even managing to shoot through the walls.
When questioned about whether the police had attempted to communicate with Hardison during the eviction notice process, Kraus stated that the police had indeed called upon Hardison to peacefully resolve the situation. However, he emphasized that this peaceful resolution seemed unlikely at the present moment.
Kraus couldn't ascertain whether Hardison's demise resulted from police gunfire or self-inflicted injuries. He also refrained from commenting on the specific type of weapon the suspect might have had.
Police Chief Scirotto highlighted the coordinated efforts that prevented further casualties. He underscored, "I believe it's crucial not to underestimate the gravity of this situation." Scirotto described Hardison's actions, explaining that any gesture of surrender was met with gunfire.
Gagliardia Police praised the remarkable vigilance of regional law enforcement that participated in delivering eviction notices. He mentioned that state police were called in for an investigation, while city and county police directly responded to the exchange of gunfire.
The incident site is approximately half a mile away from UPMC Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. The hospital announced heightened security measures on its premises throughout the day.
According to the Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety, a total of 11 agencies collaborated in the Garfield operation. Apart from city, county, and state police, this effort involved the county attorney's office, the FBI, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The Department of Public Safety reported no significant injuries among personnel.
The city administration intends to deploy social workers to Garfield and other areas of the city to aid residents in coping with the events of Wednesday.
Around 6 pm, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey issued a statement: "Pittsburgh residents, I invite you to join in tonight's prayers for the Garfield community—a peaceful neighborhood marred by a tragic incident today. My gratitude goes to all federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies for their dedicated work in maintaining our neighborhoods and cities safe. I extend my appreciation to the trauma response team for their on-site assistance to those in need. I'd also like to acknowledge Governor Josh Shapiro for his provision of state-level resources, as well as County Executive Rich Fitzgerald for his additional support to our city. Moreover, I wish to thank the entire community for their cooperation as we navigate through this situation. As a city, we remain committed to offering care to all those affected and will continue working to connect individuals with mental health and trauma support services in the upcoming days."
Governor Josh Shapiro also expressed his appreciation through social media: "Grateful to local, state, and federal law enforcement, as well as the team of first responders, for their close collaboration with @PAStatePolice in ensuring the safety of Pennsylvanians today in Garfield, Pittsburgh. I'm also inspired by the resilient spirit displayed by local residents in the face of law enforcement efforts. Our thoughts are with you tonight."
State police are leading an investigation into an active shooting incident that occurred on Wednesday. In their official statement, the PSP announced their partnership with county and city police, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office, and other agencies as part of this comprehensive investigation.***