Bulletproof vest saves officer's life during shooting in Stanton Heights

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PITTSBURGH - A police officer was shot early Friday morning in Stanton Heights, but investigators said he was saved by his bulletproof vest.

Officer Andrew Baker was taken to UPMC Mercy after the incident at about 5 a.m. on Millerdale Street, police said. Baker was released a short time later.

Baker, an officer stationed in Zone 5, was approaching a home before dawn when 36-year-old Shawnece Moore, who had been shot in the hand, fled the home, police said.

As she ran to Baker, Tiant Rashaud Mitchell, 25, emerged from the home and opened fire, striking Baker at least once, police said. Baker returned fire, striking Mitchell, police said. Other officers began arriving at the scene shortly thereafter.

“They were in their home, and he became irate, pointed the gun at his wife and his 1-year-old child,” Police Chief Nate Harper said.

The extent of the injuries to Mitchell are unclear. His wife was shot in the hand but is expected to be OK.

Harper was at the scene Friday, less than a mile from where three Pittsburgh police officers were killed in 2009 after being ambushed by Richard Poplawski at his mother’s Fairfield Street home.

“As you can see, this is the hole. It didn’t penetrate through the vest,” Harper said. “As he was getting out of his car, he was under fire and was trying to return fire at the same time. He retreated to the back of the car, where he engaged in a gun battle.”

According to Harper, Mitchell told his wife that he wanted to kill a cop.

Mitchell is facing several charges including attempted homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.

Harper said Friday was the fourth time in the past year that Baker, who is a five-year veteran of the force, has had to use his gun in self-defense.

Sgt. Cristen Zett said she’s proud of her younger brother, and happy that he’s still alive.

“I think most officers wear their vests, but those that don’t, I’d like to show them Andrew’s vest,” Zett said. “With a little help from his guardian angel, he’s still here today.”

Zett is a trainer at the Pittsburgh Police Academy and said she constantly reminds new recruits to take all necessary steps to stay safe.

Zett added that her brother has said he can’t wait to get back to work.

“He really loves what he does. You have to wish him well and hope for the best every day,” Zett said.

Baker is expected to return to work later this week.