Witness recounts South Side chase, shooting: ‘We saw the guy get shot'

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PITTSBURGH - Authorities are still investigating a police chase that ended in gunfire and a crash early Sunday morning on the South Side.

The vehicle pursuit started in Homestead after the 37-year-old male driver, whose name has not been released, ran a red light, city police Chief Nathan Harper said.

The man then led police to East Carson Street on the South Side, where five off-duty Pittsburgh police officers opened fire after several parked cars were struck by the fleeing vehicle, Harper said.

According to police, the car being pursued then crashed into a taxi cab around 1:30 a.m.

Lauren Berie told Channel 11’s Vince Sims that she was leaving the South Side Saturday night when the chaotic scene broke out.

“We saw the gun and saw the guy get shot,” Berie said. “My friend’s boyfriend pulled me and her into a little corner. Our guy friends were kind of shielding us.”

Brian Vetere, who owns Carson City Saloon, said many people were rushed back inside bars for safety.

“It was just pandemonium,” Vetere said. “We were just trying to keep people inside, and we shut down the business. We stopped serving drinks because we didn’t want people to keep drinking with the commotion happening.”

Harper said the driver and his mother, a passenger in the car, were both hospitalized in serious condition.

East Carson Street was closed between 12th and 18th streets for about four hours following the incident.

“We allowed people to come in if they were frightened with all of the commotion. We didn’t want anybody getting hurt,” Vetere said.

Investigators said the driver has outstanding warrants in Georgia.

According to police, the officers that fired shots are on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure after any officer-involved shooting.

“Our officers are trained to make sure that they keep residents safe. At that moment they felt that was what they were doing. The investigation will play itself out,” Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said.

Officials have not named the officers involved in the incident.

“I give cops complete credit for what they did. The fact that they had the confidence to do that with hundreds of people around is great,” Berie said.