3 arrested in shooting deaths of man, 7-year-old son

Community reacts to shootings of father, 7-year-old son

SWISSVALE, Pa. — Three men have been arrested and charged in the shooting deaths of a man and his 7-year-old son on Tuesday in Swissvale, police said.

Investigators said the shooting, which happened about 4:30 p.m. inside a home on Columbia Avenue, appeared to be an exchange of gunfire.

Walter Stewart Jr., 29, died at the scene. His son, Jo Lawrence Stewart, was found lying on top of him and later died at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

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“It's tragic. I was thinking about when those kids and friends come back from holiday break, there's going to be a kid missing. How does a teacher explain that?” David Matthews, a neighbor, said.

On Wednesday, the Woodland Hills School District, where Jo Lawrence was a first-grader, said, "Jo was the embodiment of a Wolverine; he was smart, kind, caring, and always helped his peers."

Braddock Mayor John Fetterman says he knew of Walter and that Jo Lawrence played with his kids in the neighborhood.

"This child was essentially my son's age and I can't wrap my own head around that," Fetterman said. "It stuns and appalls me and breaks my heart and it should everybody's."

Police told Channel 11 News the boy didn't live at the home.

“It's very difficult for our officers,” acting Swissvale Police Chief Charles Watson said.

Police said early Wednesday that three men -- Donavan Wilson, 23, Brandon Barnett, 26, and Jacqua Barnett, 30 -- were arrested and each charged with two counts of homicide and conspiracy.

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Wilson and Jacqua Barnett were taken to the Allegheny County Jail.

Brandon Barnett was injured in the shooting and will be taken to jail upon his release from the hospital, where he was driven by Wilson and Jacqua Barnett, police said. He was last listed in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds.

Authorities said a drug deal likely led to the shooting.

“It might be drug-related and there might've been some type of robbery attempt,” Allegheny County police Lt. Andrew Schurman said Tuesday.

According to a criminal complaint obtained Wednesday, a witness said Wilson was heard saying “that he did not sell outside the house,” and then there was a scuffle followed by Wilson yelling and six or seven gunshots.