An unarmed 17-year-old boy was fatally shot Tuesday night by East Pittsburgh Police and the shooting was caught on a video that has spread on social media after being posted on Facebook. The teen was shot by officers while running from a car following a traffic stop, the Allegheny County Police Department said in a press release. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Community members and family identified him Wednesday as Antwon Rose, a student at Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh. You can read more about him here. The officer who shot Rose has not been named.
The video shows officers stopping a car on a residential street while investigating another shooting that happened minutes earlier in a neighboring town. The car that was stopped matched the description of one witnesses described having been involved in the shooting, according to police. Two people get out of the car and run and shots are then fired. One person, who has his back to the officers, appears to fall to the ground after the shots were heard. After two shots are heard, the person recording the video gasps and can be heard saying, “why are they shooting at him? … Why are they shooting? All they did was run and they’re shooting at them?”
You can watch the video below. The video shows the shooting footage twice, once zoomed in:
The shooting happened Tuesday evening in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a borough of about 2,000 residents in Allegheny County that is 15 minutes outside of the city of Pittsburgh. The incident began with another shooting in neighboring North Braddock, according to police. The shooting has sparked outrage in the community and across the country. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown tweeted Wednesday, “Rip Antwane Rose (sp.) sad day in Pittsburgh crazy.”
Rose, of Rankin, was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:19 p.m., the Allegheny County Police Department said in a press release Tuesday night. The investigation into the shooting is ongoing. The officer who shot Rose has not been identified. He has been put on leave. Police said two firearms were found in the car Rose fled from, but investigators said they did not find a gun near Rose after he was shot. Witnesses said he was not armed and had his back to officers when he was shot.
Sources told KDKA-TV that the officer who shot and killed Rose was sworn in an as a part-time officer at a East Pittsburgh council meeting about an hour before the shooting. The meeting was held at 7 p.m. Tuesday and the shooting occurred just after 8:40 p.m.
According to KDKA, the officer is in his 20s, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports he is about 30. He had been hired by East Pittsburgh three weeks before the shooting and was officially sworn in at a meeting that started 90 minutes prior to Rose’s death. He has been an officer in Allegheny County since 2011, previously working for Harmarville, Oakmont and the University of Pittsburgh police departments, the news station reports. The Post-Gazette reports he also worked in Blawnox.
East Pittsburgh Mayor Louis Payne declined to name the officer, but told the Post-Gazette the officer was treated at the hospital for “shock” after the shooting. Payne said East Pittsburgh Police Chief Lori Fruncek, who is his daughter, spent several hours with the officer after the incident.
A witness told WTAE-TV that she saw the harrowing scene unfold from her porch. She told the news station she saw officers approaching the car with their guns drawn. The officers handcuffed the driver of the car and that is when the two passengers opened their doors and took off running. She then heard the shots.
Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said he “briefly saw” the video of the shooting. “It’s important, however it has to be taken in the context of the entire investigation. It’s a snapshot in time and while important, it will be factored in to the larger totality of the investigation.”
McDonough added, “I understand in today’s atmosphere any time a young man is killed there’s cause for outrage in some areas. However, I would urge people to give us time to conduct an objective investigation, to gather facts. As you know, social media is so prolific now, some of the initial postings on social media that came out directly after this incident were inaccurate and inflammatory. So I would urge that people in the community give us a chance to conduct an investigation and I guarantee that’s what they will get from the Allegheny Police.”
McDonough said there are times when shooting someone in the back can be justified.
“It’s very complex, there are a lot of dynamics. There is something called a reactionary gap between the time a human perceives a threat and is able to act on it. Things happen, people tuirn around and things. I’m not saying that any of that applies to this situation because it’s too early and we can’t make judgements. Ultimately, our findings will go to the district attorney and he will make that judgement whether or not this was a justified use of force by a police officer.”
McDonough said he believes police gave a verbal order to Rose before the shots were fired. He said the officer was conducting a “felony traffic stop,” and ordered the driver out and had him “prone” on the ground. He also gave a command to the other occupants and that is when they fled from the vehicle, McDonough said.
Another video posted on Facebook shows a person being taken into an ambulance and receiving chest compressions from a paramedic. You can watch that video, which is graphic, below:
Police were investigating another shooting in a nearby borough, North Braddock, when they stopped the car Antwon Rose was in, according to a press release.
“At approximately 8:20 PM, County 9-1-1 received multiple calls reporting that shots were fired and that a male had been shot in the 800 block of Kirkpatrick Avenue,” police said. “Callers reported that a vehicle was seen fleeing the scene, and were able to provide a description of that vehicle. North Braddock Police and paramedics responded and found a 22-year-old male who had been shot. He was been transported to a local trauma center where he was treated and released.”
Police said during that incident the 22-year-old man was shot in the abdomen. The shooter fired nine .40 caliber rounds at the victim from a passing vehicle and the victim also returned fire.
According to Allegheny County Police:
Information on the vehicle that fled the North Braddock scene was put out over the air for neighboring police departments to assist/respond. An East Pittsburgh police officer saw a vehicle matching the description on Grandview Avenue which also had ballistics damage to the rear window. The officer stopped the vehicle near Grandview and Howard Street in East Pittsburgh. The officer took the driver into custody. While he was putting the driver into handcuffs, two other occupants ran from the car. One individual – a 17-year-old male – was shot by police. He was transported to McKeesport Hospital where he was declared deceased. Further information on the deceased, including name, will be released by the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner once formal identification has been made and the next of kin notified.
Rose was shot about 8:40 p.m.
The 20-year-old driver, who was handcuffed before the shooting, was arrested. He has not been identified. The driver was released after being interviewed by detectives and has not been charged. The driver told police he worked as a jitney, an unlicensed cab, and was working in that role Tuesday night, according to the Post-Gazette. Police confirmed the driver had worked as a jitney in the past.
At a press conference Wednesday, Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said he was confident the vehicle that was pulled over was the one used in the shooting. He said it matched the description given by witnesses and had damage to the back window that was possibly caused by gunshots returned by the shooting victim during the first incident.
Police are still searching for the third person who fled from the car. “ACPD Superintendent Coleman McDonough is asking that he turn himself in so that he can give a comprehensive description of what occurred this evening,” police said in the press release.
According to WTAE-TV, multiple agencies were at the scene searching for the third person. A state police helicopter was being used in the search. That person remained at large Wednesday morning.
There was some initial confusion over his age, with witnesses saying a 13-year-old boy was killed by police. According to WPXI-TV, Rose was a student last year at Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh.
“The Woodland Hills School District acknowledges the gun violence that occurred recently within the neighborhoods that our district serves,” Assistant Superintendent Licia Lentz said in a statement. “We are urging the communities to help us call a ceasefire to end this gun violence to keep our community safe for our children … Our thoughts are with the victim’s family and the entire Woodland Hills Community.”
Activist Shaun King posted a photo of Rose on Facebook on Wednesday and wrote, “This is #AntwonRose. Shot in the back and killed yesterday by police in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My friends in the city knew him and his family. We didn’t know it was Antwon who was killed until late last night. Devastating. A wonderful boy.”
King later tweeted he had spoken with Rose’s family, “They are devastated beyond words and have spent the morning at the funeral home.”
The family has hired attorney Lee Merritt to represent them. Merritt issued a statement Wednesday night on behalf of the family:
It is difficult to find justification in the shooting of 17-year-old rising senior high school student Antwon Rose II. From all accounts, he was a generous, hard working and highly promising student. Affirmations of his generosity and spirit and genuine goodheartedness have begun pouring in from all corners of the East Pittsburgh community where he lived.
We know very little about the circumstances surrounding his death at this early stage. We must emphasize that rumors of him being involved in a separate shooting are unsubstantiated. We know that he was not armed at the time he was shot down, that he posed no immediate threat to anyone and that, significantly, the driver of the vehicle he occupied was released from police custody. The officer involved in this shooting had just been sworn into the (East Pittsburgh PD) … (90 minutes) before this encounter. These facts, without more, simply leave very little room to justify the use of deadly force by this officer. Additional information concerning the background of the offending officer and the facts available to him at the time of the shooting is needed as we determine the appropriate action in this matter.
On behalf of the family we thank the community for the generous outpouring of concern and support.
His aunt, Mica Tinsley, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette she was angered by the video. “They’re not even saying stop,” she told the newspaper. “They just started shooting, and he fell. He didn’t make it far.”
Selena Brooklin, who lives near the scene, told the Post-Gazette she was “outraged” when she saw the video. “Why did they have to shoot him when he is running away? What is the justification for that? There is no justification. There is no answer. You shot a man in the back while he was running away.”
Sherri Monique, 16, who said she was close friends with Rose, told the newspaper, “All I can say is he was a cool person with a good heart. Always there for you no matter what or how hard life got.”
Rose once worked at a children’s gymnastics and fitness center in Pittsburgh for a summer, its owner, Kimberly Eads Ransom, wrote in a Facebook comment on Wednesday. She said the photo of him circulating on Facebook, showing him smiling next to a little girl, was taken in her gym when he worked there.
“He was fantastic and I have nothing but great things to say about him,” she wrote. “He showed up in a 3 piece suit to his job interview in the middle of July heat in a gym. We loved him. The kids loved him. He was valued and we won’t forget him.”
Gisele Barreto Fetterman, who runs several charities in the Pittsburgh area and whose husband, John Fetterman, is the mayor of Braddock and a current candidate for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor, wrote on Facebook that Rose volunteered for her. He worked at Freestore15104, which helps provide goods to people in need.
“No words other than this is the young man who was killed in East Pittsburgh yesterday. Then just 14 and only a few weeks into summer vacation, he wrote us to ask about volunteering at the Freestore and was scheduled to return this summer. His life was just starting, he was part of a wonderful family and he was SO LOVED by so many and he didn’t deserve this,” she wrote on Facebook. She wrote, “this is who he was,” along with a screenshot of an email about how he wanted to volunteer more often.
Fetterman told KDKA-TV, “He was a funny, goofy kid who loved chasing children around the store.”
Duquense Mayor Nickole Nesby wrote on Facebook, “He volunteered for me as well. He prepared excel spreadsheets and scheduled for our Movies in the Park on Friday’s. My heart is broken.”
Nesby added, “Yesterday, I attended the visual for the murdered youth in Duquesne. Afterwards, I was so drained. The gun violence, death, tears and loss of life takes a toll on us all. This is another example of failing to invest in our Communities. I awoke to a fb tag of a young man being shot at in East Pittsburgh. Only to read it was a youth volunteer of mine.”
The Allegheny County Police Homicide Unit is investigating both incidents, according to WPXI-TV.
“In accordance with police best practices in the aftermath of officer-involved shootings, the Allegheny County Police Department Homicide detectives were requested to assume the role of independent investigating agency,” the department said in a statement. “The East Pittsburgh officer has been placed on administrative leave. ACPD Homicide will work closely with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office as this investigation progresses, providing his staff with investigative findings for review.”
Police have not released details about the officer, including how long he has been with the department. The officer has not been interviewed yet by detectives. The police commissioner was asked at a press conference if the officer is white, and he responded by saying he is not sure what that has to do with the situation.
“That officer has the same right as any other citizen. He has a right to counsel, so I’m sure that plays into this scenario,” McDonough said.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr.’s office said in a statement to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “The county looped us in immediately. It is their investigation right now and they are keeping us updated in real time.”
Police added, “Anyone having information on these incidents, or video of any portion of the incidents, is asked to contact the Allegheny County Police Department. Callers to the ACPD Tip Line can remain anonymous – the number is 833.ALL.TIPS (833.255.8477). The department can also be reached via its social media sites.” In a Facebook post, the department said, “Please note that information is still being gathered regarding these incidents and is subject to change. Additional information will be provided as we are able.”
Reggie Shuford, of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he expects a “thorough, extensive and transparent investigation,” and added, “Based on the information that is currently available, the East Pittsburgh police officers involved in this tragic situation seem to have disregarded the basic humanity of this boy when they chose to use lethal force. While we await more details of what happened, it appears through the cell phone video that the victim was running away from the police. Our heart breaks for the family of the victim, and we express our deepest condolences to them.”
East Pittsburgh officials have not commented about the shooting. The office of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto tweeted a statement clarifying the shooting did not happen in his city, “This incident did not occur in the City of Pittsburgh or involve its police force. East Pittsburgh is a suburb outside of our jurisdiction named for its location east of our city.”
Peduto, a Democrat, released a new statement Wednesday morning, “Any loss of life is tragic and especially the loss of life of a child. This is a devastating situation and I am saddened for Antwon Rose and his family. While Tuesday’s shooting was not within the city’s official borders, it impacts all of us in the Pittsburgh region and particularly those in the African American community. In my reactions to the incident I should have acknowledged that these shootings affect all of us, no matter where we live, and for that I am sorry.”
He added, “Tuesday night I was receiving numerous calls and messages asking me to respond to the involvement of police in a shooting in East Pittsburgh borough and at the time I was attempting to clarify for the national public that the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, which I ultimately oversee, were not involved. This was never intended to be, nor should it be, the focus of news coverage. I answer people when they reach out to me seeking factual information, just as all elected officials should be expected to do.”