Prosecutors seek death penalty against man accused of killing McKeesport officer, injuring another

MCKEESPORT, Pa. — Prosecutors say they plan to seek the death penalty if they win a first-degree murder conviction against a man charged in last month’s shooting death of one police officer and the wounding of another in McKeesport, Pennsylvania.

Johnathan Jermia Morris, 31, of McKeesport is charged in Allegheny County with criminal homicide, attempted homicide and assaulting a law enforcement officer, as well as firearms crimes in the Feb. 6 shootings.

In a notice filed with the court Friday, prosecutors said capital punishment would be warranted for several reasons, including that the victim was a police officer, the crime was committed during another felony and it created a grave risk of death to another person. Pennsylvania hasn’t executed anyone since 1999.

Morris is accused of killing Officer Sean Sluganski and injuring Officer Charles Thomas on Feb. 6. Police were responding to a call from his mother, who said the military veteran was having a PTSD episode.

Previous coverage: Man accused of killing McKeesport police officer released from hospital, taken to jail

Morris allegedly fled from police when they tried talking to him, ending up in a yard in the 1300 block of Grandview Avenue. Witnesses driving on Grandview Avenue told police Morris approached them and told them police were trying to kill him. He asked them to film him, which they did, according to court documents.

The witnesses told police that soon after, Officer Thomas, driving a police car, pulled into an alley off 1300 Grandview Avenue, and Officer Sluganski arrived on foot.

Morris pulled out a gun and shot Officer Thomas and then shot Officer Sluganski, according to court documents.

Morris was shot in the leg when Officer Thomas returned fire. He fled to a nearby convenience store, where a man applied a tourniquet to his leg before more officers arrived and took Morris into custody.

Morris was taken to the Allegheny County Jail after being released from the hospital.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story