East Liberty shooting called 'suicide by police officer'

EAST LIBERTY, Pa. — Authorities said a county sheriff's deputy  shot and killed  a man who had kept law enforcement officers at bay after they responded to reports that the man was acting erratically with a gun on an East Liberty street.

Police said the incident began around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday when Odell Brown, 19, was seen walking down North Euclid Avenue carrying what looked like a gun. Officials confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Brown was not carrying a real gun.

Brown, wearing a black T-shirt and shorts, stood on his porch starting at about 9:30 a.m., and police and SWAT officers surrounded the area, blocking streets and ordering people in the area surrounding the 500 block of North Euclid Avenue to stay in their homes.

Pittsburgh police chief Nate Harper told reporters Wednesday that investigators believe the case was one of "suicide by police officer." He said the 19-year-old had made statements suggesting that "he did not wish to live."

Sheriff William Mullen said the weapon turned out to be a pellet gun, but it was so realistic that the 14-year veteran deputy believed his life was in danger. Police did not immediately identify the deputy.

Brown was shot just before 11 a.m. Police then taped off the area around his house and marked it as a crime scene.

Neighbor Anita Flores said her husband was trying to tell Brown to put his gun down.

“My husband was talking to him, just trying to get him to put his gun down. They were talking on the porch and he was on the ground,” Flores said.

A crowd of people gathered around the perimeter of the scene and one witness told Channel 11 News that everyone heard the gunshot.

“We watched as the man’s hand holding the gun was shaking and then he pointed his other hand at the SWAT truck. Not long after, we heard a gunshot,” the witness said.

Flores said she thinks the situation started over a girl.

“No female is worth dying for. It can be resolved,” Flores said.

Officials said Brown was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital where he was confirmed dead.