NORTH BRADDOCK, Pa. — The man accused of shooting a North Braddock officer is now claiming he had no idea he was firing at two officers.
Police said a woman reported about 10 p.m. that her two teenage sons were possibly being held hostage in connection to stolen drugs and money. While investigating her complaint, two North Braddock officers went to a vacant house at 13th Street and Franklin Avenue.
As they tried to enter the building, gunfire erupted from inside. One officer suffered a graze wound to the arm, with the bullet lodging in his bulletproof vest, and the other was lacerated by glass flying from the door.
They called for backup, including a SWAT unit.
“Very close call. Any time you take a shot that hits your vest and doesn’t penetrate, it was meant to penetrate. It was meant to do bodily harm and put that officer out of commission,” North Braddock Mayor Tom Whyel said.
The officer told Channel 11's Gabriella DeLuca it was a long night, but he will return for his shift on Wednesday.
Police said he fired one shot in return.
About 1 a.m., officers spotted a man seen fleeing the house, authorities said. Allegheny County POrt Authority Police arrested him near the South Busway on South Braddock Avenue
Police identified the man, 20-year-old Dejon Howard, as the shooter. He was taken to the Allegheny County Jail and will be charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, criminal trespass and weapons violations.
According to police paperwork, Howard said he was squatting in the house and had fallen asleep after smoking marijuana with two men there. When he heard someone entering the building, he opened fire because "he has people that are out to kill him," according to the criminal complaint.
Two other people were detained after SWAT officers went into the vacant house. Investigators said it was determined that they were not involved in either the shooting or the alleged abduction.
Officials said the teenagers reported to have been abducted were tracked down and it was determined that there had not been an abduction.
Allegheny County police are leading the investigation. The FBI is assisting.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Allegheny County Police Tipline at 1-833-255-8477.
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