Police resume search in Allegheny River for missing North Side man
Pittsburgh police resumed their search Wednesday for a missing North Side man.
Using SONAR and specialized cameras designed to see through murky water, divers concentrated their efforts near the Roberto Clemente Bridge.
Investigators also obtained a search warrant and are looking at at least one of Dakota James' social media apps. Police said they have reviewed every video image they found of James the night he disappeared. The only surveillance photo they have released so far is one showing James walking in Katz Plaza in downtown's Cultural District.
Authorities said the image was taken from video recorded at 11:46 p.m. on Jan. 25. Investigators said they now believe James may have been walking toward his home on the North Side, but officials said he was seen at least one more time that night on the Roberto Clemente Bridge.
James, 23, has been in Pittsburgh since August 2015, when he moved to the area to earn his MBA at Duquesne University. He is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 145 pounds. Both of his ears are pierced, with an extra earring on the upper part of his right earlobe. He also has a triangle tattoo on the inside of one ankle. It is uncertain which ankle is tattooed.
James is wearing a dark gray or black coat in the surveillance photo from Katz Plaza. Authorities originally believed that his coat was olive green.
Anyone who may have seen James, or who is willing to provide video not previously obtained by investigators from the vicinity in which he was last seen, is asked to call the Missing Persons Unit at 412-323-7141.
James was also seen the night he disappeared at the Wood Street T Station. Surveillance video from 11:49 p.m. that night shows James and a co-worker, who got into an Uber car. The video then shows James alone in front of the T Station, but it does not show where he went next.
River Rescue personnel have conducted daily searches of the rivers. On Tuesday, Pittsburgh River Rescue personnel and K-9 officers were near the 10th Street Bypass, where search dogs appeared to pick up a scent, but divers found nothing. Crews said that visibility was low for Tuesday's dive under the Clemente Bridge.
Detectives have reviewed hours of surveillance video from 16 cameras, including the camera at the Port Authority, police said. Pittsburgh police have not released any surveillance video and said, "The video is potentially evidence, and we do not need to identify anyone for the purpose of the investigation."
On Monday, James' parents, other family members and friends attended a Mass at the chapel on Duquesne University's campus.
“We need to find our son, please,” Dakota's mother, Pamela James, said.
Pamela James said she was frustrated with the way the search for her son has been handled.
“We are the ones walking these streets. We are the ones talking to patrons, business people trying to get permission to look at surveillance,” Pamela James said. “I need proof that's my child. Someone show me a picture. Show me what you have. We need to see his face. You’re going on wild goose chases."
The Greensburg Bloodhound Team searched the riverbanks Saturday with aerial support from the Pennsylvania State Police, police said. Five search teams scoured the streets as well.
"Our detectives are diligently working every angle. We maintain an open line of communication with the family and are supportive of them during this truly trying time," said Chief Scott Schubert, of the Pittsburgh Police Bureau. "I also want to express gratitude to the public for calling in tips, the businesses that are providing access to their surveillance video and our law enforcement partners. We will find Dakota."
Police on Wednesday said they have redoubled their efforts from Market Square to Smithfield Street and are talking to people who may have seen James the night he disappeared.
"Our detectives and our officers are doing their best, despite any things that are said that may be considered negative in this situation," Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Sonya Toler said.
Family members from Maryland traveled to Pittsburgh earlier this week to hang hundreds of posters and to search for James. His father, Jeff James, pleaded with the public to help find his son.
"No one knows what the outcome of this will be, but someone out there knows where my son is,” Jeff James said.
In the meantime, friends, family members and complete strangers who felt they had no choice but to get involved organized Saturday's massive search.
"Something inside of me told me to do it. It's the right thing. I think about it if it were my mom in the same situation. ... It's just the right thing to do,” said Jorge Lima, a search volunteer.
Kochu's father, Jack Kochu, said he wants to tell the James family, "Never give up. Keep pressure on authorities to never give up," and "to do all they can to expand the search area." Jack Kochu said his family's thoughts and prayers are with the James family, and they are willing to help them in any way they can.