Police investigate Monessen shootings officers expect to be related



MONESSEN, Pa. - Four of the five people accused of being involved in a Monday-afternoon Monessen attempted homicide, which may be connected to a fatal shooting earlier that day, have turned themselves in to Monessen police and Westmoreland County detectives.

Joshua Stepoli, 18, Terrence Stepoli, 20, Samone Stepoli, 21, Earl V. Pinkney, 18, and Antoine Hairston, 19, all of Monessen, were charged Tuesday with attempted homicide, attempted aggravated assault and two conspiracy charges each.

Pinkney and the three Stepolis are in custody, according to Monessen Police Chief Mark Gibson. According to police, Hairston is still at large.

District Attorney John Peck said the charges stem from an incident Monday in which the five attacked a man in the city, shooting at him and pursuing him until he was able to escape. Peck said he was not sure if the victim was hit.

Peck said the incident may be related to the fatal shooting of Chris Fincik, 36, at his Maple Avenue home.

Neighbors told Monessen police they heard up to a dozen shots before Fincik was found shot to death near a rear door, which he apparently answered before he was found slain about 12:30 a.m. Monday.

"It's suspected it's related," Peck said of the attempted homicide. "We don't have clear evidence of that fact, but the fact that one occurred so soon after the other, it appears they may be related."

Peck said no charges have been filed in Fincik's death.

Jim Stepoli defended his children Wednesday and said they have nothing to do with the gun violence that's erupted in Monessen.

"The truth will come out, and almost every one of those last charges will be dismissed," Jim Stepoli said. "It was a situation where one of my boys approached a kid about making accusations over the murder that happened the other day, and my son smacked him in the face."

According to Jim Stepoli, Pinknew and Hairston were with his children that night and had guns.

"They chased the kid down the street and started shooting at him. None of my three children were ever involved in any gunplay or anything of that nature," Jim Stepoli said.

Investigators said they searched Pinkney's home and found rifles, shotguns and pistols. They also confiscated money, several rounds of ammunition and a "Jason" mask.

Police said they're simultaneously investigating the Fincik murder case. They executed search warrants and interviewed people Wednesday.

Authorities said while executing a search warrant at Fincik's home, they found money and suspected controlled substances on his kitchen table.

"He was a very good guy. We were real good friends. He always did for anybody, you know, that needed anything. Man, this is terrible. This is something that we really just truly didn't expect," said one of Fincik's friends, Aaron Payne.

"He was a good man. He would do anything for you. He loved his kids and his mom. He took care of everybody," said Fincik's friend, Samantha Barcus.

Neighbors said they're shocked because Fincik hosted a free Fourth of July fireworks display and a Christmas program for poorer people.

But online court records show he's done time for drug trafficking and been arrested for various offenses, including assault, dating to 1995.

Brothers Joshua and Terrence Stepoli were standout athletes for the Monessen Greyhounds and Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions.

Both played football and basketball, and Terrence Stepoli also ran track. Their sister, Samone, played basketball for the Greyhounds.
The Stepoli brothers were recently sentenced for an April incident in Charleroi. During a traffic stop, police found a stolen handgun under Terrence Stepoli's seat and another in Joshua Stepoli's pocket.

Joshua Stepoli was sentenced in Washington County Court to 60 days to 12 months in prison and 24 months probation. Terrence Stepoli was sentenced to 18 months of intermediate punishment, including 60 days on electronic home monitoring.

Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.