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Pittsburgh shooting suspect dead in 6-hour standoff in Garfield neighborhood

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A gunman is dead after a six-hour standoff in Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood that prompted evacuations as he exchanged gunfire with police. 

Police said the "active shooter" was barricaded inside a home on the 4800 block of Broad and North Mathilda streets on Wednesday. Pittsburgh Public Safety alerted the public to the shooting at around 11 a.m. Police said the suspect was pronounced dead shortly after 5 p.m. The man has been identified as William Hardison Sr.

William Hardison has been identified as the man who exchanged gunfire with officers for hours in Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood on Aug. 23, 2023.  (Photo: Provided)

The public was asked to avoid the area and officers evacuated people from their houses in the 4800 block of Broad Street.   

In the final hours of the standoff, police endured a volley of gunfire from the suspect inside the home. Police then flew a drone over the house and located the suspect. SWAT officers concentrated fire on that part of the house and the suspect was hit.   

Allegheny County Sheriff Kevin Kraus said the gunman was shooting out of the first- and second-floor windows and through the wall. 

KDKA-TV was told the home belonged to Hardison's brother, who passed away. A man named "William Hardison" was also listed on the deed, but the home sold in February at a sheriff's sale for $25,000. 

Sources told KDKA-TV that Hardison considered himself a sovereign citizen not bound by the laws of the United States or any state or local government. He was cited more than 20 times for driving without a license.

A YouTube video shows him being stopped by police four years ago, with Hardison calling the officers fake police and saying they have no power over him.

WATCH: KDKA's Jen Borrasso wraps up its coverage following the standoff in Garfield

Suspect dead after six-hour standoff, shootout with police in Garfield 03:12

Sheriff Kraus: 'He had a lot of ammunition in that house'

The Allegheny County Sheriff's Office said deputies were at the home to serve an eviction notice. Sheriff Kevin Kraus said it took several minutes to make contact and when they did, he said Hardison immediately opened fire.

Deputies returned fire and "engaged in a pretty significant gun battle," Kraus said. He said there was a "lengthy" gun battle before SWAT officers arrived and stabilized the scene.

He said seven deputies wearing body armor responded to the house, which was more than normal. Officials knew about Hardison before but it was "nothing super out of the ordinary," Kraus told reporters at the scene.

WATCH: Allegheny County Sheriff Kevin Kraus meets with reporters following Garfield incident

Sheriff Kraus: 'He had a lot of ammunition in that house' 06:36

"We certainly didn't expect this. Certainly, there's factors that go into these types of things that we do. We evaluate, we respond accordingly. But we certainly had no information whatsoever that this individual was this dangerous or that there were firearms in this house," Kraus said.

He said there was a pre-event meeting about serving the eviction notice, but he didn't expect what they walked into.

"I can't even tell you the number of volleys back and forth between the suspect. He had a lot of ammunition in that house. All of us were strapped with ammunition, and we were calling for additional ammunition. But we were able to secure the scene. Like I said, we tried to give him every opportunity to come out but it elevated to the SWAT team response and we were able to end the threat after several hours."

A sheriff sergeant was the only one injured. He suffered a cut to his head trying to get away from the gunfire, and he's expected to be OK, Kraus said.

Police chief details tactical response

Pittsburgh Police Chief Larry Scirotto said there was a "multi-agency tactical response" to the Garfield shootout.

He said officers from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Pennsylvania State Police, Allegheny County Police Department, Allegheny County Sheriff's Office, Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, ATF and FBI responded to the neighborhood.

"That coordinated effort saved many lives, many officers' lives, in a tense and rapidly uncertain environment," Scirotto told reporters at the scene.

Scirotto said law enforcement gave the man "every opportunity to surrender." He said the man shot three to four police drones out of the air.

WATCH: Pittsburgh Police Chief Larry Scirotto provides update following Garfield incident

Pittsburgh police chief details tactical response to Garfield shootout 05:03

"We provided ample opportunity for a peaceful surrender," Scirotto said.

The police chief said the standoff lasted as long as it did because officers "did not rush to judgment. We want a peaceful conclusion, surrender in this instance. So, we use various methods to accomplish that surrender. And in that, with every opportunity to surrender, we were met with gunfire."

He did not provide many details about the man, only confirming he was dead. A woman who said the barricaded gunman "goes with her cousin" and has been with her the past 40 years called him a "teddy bear" and "jokester."

"As the investigation continues, we will learn a lot more about him, the home, the family and the potential volatility that we faced today and what led up to that," Scirotto said.

State police are now leading the investigation. 

Witnesses detail chaotic evacuations 

A woman who was barricaded in her basement before she was evacuated said her home was hit by gunfire. 

"Trying to get to the basement was almost unbearable," she said. "Shots were ringing out everywhere. Finally made it to the basement, was able to get to a secure spot. Shots were just everywhere."  

"Shots came through the window for the living room, I have holes in the bathroom, glass is shattered everywhere," she added. 

Her husband was at work when he found out his wife was at home barricaded alone.  

WATCH: Woman describes sheltering in basement while gunfire hits her home

KDKA-TV speaks to couple who lives across street from Garfield shooting incident 02:56

"Finally, I got in touch with her, she's frantic in the basement, screaming, crying," he said. "My first thing was to get home, you know what I mean? So I get here and everything is blocked off and I hear gunshots and everything. It's just something I've never heard of or imagined in this neighborhood."

One witness who is visiting the area said he was terrified when shots began to ring out.

"In the beginning, all we heard was the cops," witness Chris Wilkinson, who is visiting family in the area, said. "They were banging on the door where the shooting takes place. They were banging on it telling him they were there. And after a couple of minutes of them doing it, they started to kick down the door, but after a few tries they couldn't do it. Then, they got a sledgehammer and took down the door, and after that shots started to be fired. I've been really nervous and it's really sad what's happening. You think you can be safe here but you can't with what's happening."

Leslie Thompson said it was around 9:30 a.m. when she was working from home on Broad Street and saw law enforcement across the road at her neighbor's door, urging him to come out. Eventually, shots rang out as she ran to the basement.

"My fear was that he was running throughout the neighborhood. So, I was trying to shut my windows so he couldn't get in," Thompson said.

For about two-and-a-half hours, she stayed in the basement. She left after police banged on her door to evacuate.

Mayor Gainey calls for prayers, thanks law enforcement

Mayor Ed Gainey released a statement on Wednesday, saying:

"Pittsburgh - I ask for you to join us in prayer tonight for the entire community of Garfield, a peaceful neighborhood that was home to an unfortunate tragedy today.

"I want to thank all of our federal, state, and local law enforcement officials here today who worked to keep this neighborhood and our city safe, as well as to our trauma response team who has been on scene helping provide support to those who needed it. Thank you to Governor Josh Shapiro for providing us with state resources, and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald for working to provide the city with additional support.

"I would also like to thank the community for their cooperation as we mobilized our response.

"As a city, we are committed to caring for all those who have been harmed, and we will continue working over the next several days to connect this neighborhood to mental health and trauma support services."

In a release late Wednesday, Pittsburgh Public Safety said social workers and trauma support teams will be in Garfield.

"Our Public Safety personnel - a family -,  the community of Garfield, and indeed the entire City of Pittsburgh, suffered a collective trauma today in experiencing this unfortunate incident. I want to commend all of the Department of Public Safety officials who worked tirelessly throughout the day in an effort to bring this to an end. I will ensure that our Public Safety employees, in addition to community members, are afforded all of the services they need to help process what they have witnessed today," Public Safety Director Lee Schmidt said in the statement. 

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