Off-duty officer assaulted by group of men on South Side, police say

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PITTSBURGH —

An Ohio Township police officer returned to work just days after he was assaulted by a group of men while he was off-duty on the city’s South Side.

According to police, the officer told police he was walking on 19th Street between Jane and Sarah streets when he noticed a group of at least five people walking toward him.

As the off-duty officer, 26, approached the group, he said he moved out of the way and was going to let them pass by.

The victim told detectives that a black male, about 6 feet 3 inches tall wearing a gray sweatshirt then punched him in the face three times.

“About halfway down the block he remembers feeling something on his shoulder. They spun him around and he was struck on the side of his face above his eye. He pulled away and got struck in the back of the head again,” said Ohio Township Police Chief Norbert Micklos.

The officer said as he realized the group surrounded him, he drew his off-duty gun and the group ran off. He said he gave chase briefly, but eventually lost them.

The victim had a cut under his right eye that required three stitches to close.

Micklos said, “I think it's part of a game that these little thugs play where they try to knock people out, but they are doing it from behind. Just punks.”

So far, no arrests have been made and police haven’t said if they have any leads. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact police.

According to police, at least three similar attacks on the South Side have been confirmed, including one against Francis Behanna. He lost a tooth after he was punched in the mouth outside of a South Side bar on May 4.

“One of these days they are going to run across the wrong person and get their life taken. I hate to say that, but that's as simple as it is,” said Behanna.