MUNHALL, Pa. - Authorities said the man who died while exchanging gunfire with a Munhall homeowner who caught him and another man burglarizing his garage early Tuesday morning was a Marine corporal who served in Afghanistan.
Investigators said 23-year-old Andrew Stevens was acting as a lookout for 24-year-old Shaun Conroy as they broke into the garage on East Eugene Avenue about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday.
According to police, a neighbor called the homeowner to tell him about the break-in.
The homeowner then called 911 and went outside, armed with a .380-caliber pistol, and told Stevens that police were on the way.
Investigators said Stevens brandished a .45-caliber semi-automatic and told the homeowner, “Don't do anything stupid.”
A witness told police that Stevens fired first and the homeowner returned fire. The men exchanged 15 shots, Munhall acting Police Chief Joseph Cibula said.
Stevens fired six shots, Sgt. Scott Scherer said. The homeowner wasn't hit, but county police said Stevens was hit multiple times.
“He's lucky to be alive,” Scherer said of the homeowner.
Police said the homeowner ran into the house, put the gun down and went back outside where he found Stevens lying in the alley near the detached garage. He died at the scene.
“He was genuinely distraught that he took someone's life,” Scherer said. “He was retreating as he was shooting.”
The homeowner, who detectives questioned and released, has not commented.
Conroy, who fled during the confrontation, returned upon hearing gunshots, and county police took him to headquarters for questioning.
He told police that he and Stevens returned home from a bar about 3 a.m. and decided to go for a walk and smoke a cigarette, according to a criminal complaint filed against him. When they saw the garage, they agreed to go inside, but when Conroy heard the homeowner confront Stevens, he ran out of the back door.
Police charged Conroy with burglary and conspiracy and took him to Allegheny County Jail, where he was awaiting arraignment. Records show he has arrests dating to 2009 for charges including robbery, defiant trespass and public intoxication.
Stevens joined the Marines in 2009 and served in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom from July 29, 2011, to Oct. 13, 2011, according to Maj. Tammy L. Megow-Jones of the Marine Forces Reserve/Marine Forces North Public Affairs Office.
Stevens received the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and other awards for his service, she said. He was in the Marines' individual ready reserve, which consists of Marines who are not serving in the selective reserve or on active duty, Megow-Jones said.
A search of documents on Stevens did not produce records of criminal activity in Allegheny County.
Channel 11’s Alan Jennings talked to Stevens’ brother, Scott Stevens, who said his brother was “a very giving and gifted young man.”
Scott Stevens said his brother joined the Marines out of a deep sense of loyalty to his country. He was using the G.I. Bill to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
“I’m deeply saddened losing my brother in such a tragic way. I’m sad for all of us, our family and the homeowner. We don’t condone violence of any kid,” Scott Stevens said.
Police, who seized both weapons, did not file charges against the homeowner. County police said the homeowner owns the pistol legally and that the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office will review the case to determine whether charges should be filed.
Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.