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Garfield shooting incident: Key moments from the shooting response in Pittsburgh

Barricaded gunman dead after hours-long standoff in Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood 13:22

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- After a six-plus hour standoff with law enforcement, Pittsburgh Public Safety said the gunman at the center of the "active shooting situation" in Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood is dead. 

According to Pittsburgh Public Safety, the shooting unfolded in the 4800 block of Broad Street and North Mathilda Street.

Police responded to an "active shooting situation" in the 4800 block of Broad Street and North Mathilda Street on Aug. 23, 2023.  (Photo: KDKA)

Public Safety posted on social media shortly after 11 a.m. urging people to avoid the area. The man was pronounced dead at 5:08 p.m., officials said.

The sheriff's office said the suspect turned violent and started shooting when deputies went to the address to serve an eviction notice. An attorney said the home involved was bought at a sheriff's sale and deputies were going to remove a man who was "basically squatting," knowing it could turn violent. 

It's believed that "hundreds of rounds" were fired. 

A sergeant with the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office suffered a minor injury while trying to avoid gunfire. He wasn't shot and he is OK, the sheriff's office said. 

The public is asked to avoid the area.


Mayor Gainey: Praying for the Garfield community

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey has released this statement in response to the events in the Garfield neighborhood on Wednesday.

"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."

By Heather Lang

Gunman found dead

Pittsburgh Public Safety said the gunman has been found dead.

Officials said he was pronounced dead at 5:08 p.m. The man has been identified as William Hardison, sources tell KDKA-TV. 


Police believe gunman wounded

As the situation enters hour six, there has been no gunfire for at least one hour.

That gunfire was Pittsburgh police SWAT officers shooting into the home after locating where the man is in the home by using a drone. Police believe they have hit the suspect.

By Andy Sheehan

Woman calls barricaded gunman "teddy bear"

A woman who says the barricaded gunman "goes with her cousin" and has been with her the past 40 years called him a "teddy bear" and "jokester." 

"He liked to show off sometimes but he was a teddy bear," Marlene Jones told reporters. 

She said he's been paying light and gas but believed he didn't have to pay rent because his brother, who died, owned the house.

She said he has kids and grandchildren, and she said she didn't even know he had weapons.

She said if police would let her or his girlfriend go down there, they could get him out. "But it's not like TV where you negotiate with the person," she said. 

Woman calls barricaded gunman "teddy bear" 04:10

Family member returns from scene

A family member who said he got a call from negotiators to go down to the scene came back an hour later in tears. 

He was escorted to negotiations shortly before 3 p.m. and returned shortly before 4 p.m. 

He looked devastated but didn't say what had happened, KDKA-TV's Chris Hoffman reported. 

By Chris Hoffman

Photo Gallery: Law enforcement converges in Garfield

Images from the scene in Garfield show the tense situation unfolding as law enforcement gathered at the scene.

By Heather Lang

Woman who says she's the gunman's sister calls him 'a good man'

A family member came up to officers and said he got a call from negotiators to go down to the scene. It's possible they may be trying to use family to plead with him, KDKA-TV's Chris Hoffman reports. 

Trauma response teams are out in the area for community members and family members of the man believed to be inside the home. KDKA-TV's Meghan Schiller said she overheard another person who claimed to be a family member talking to social workers and Pittsburgh police officers. 

She said she's related to the suspect and she asked police if they'd let her go near the home and try to talk to her relative. Police said they haven't been able to get a hold of him and she said she's been messaging him but hasn't gotten a response. She told police he would listen to her but they told her it wasn't safe for her to go nearby. With everything happening, they told her it's possible that he may not even recognize her.

She said she was his sister and yelled at reporters, "He is a good man, he just lost his brother and he was in the service." 

She said in her experience with him, he's been a great guy and she's upset about what's unfolding. 

Another family member said they had no idea what was going on but would have offered him a room if he needed a place to stay. 

Police have not released the barricaded gunman's identity. 


City in the Streets event postponed

Due to the active shooting situation in Garfield, the city of Pittsburgh announced the postponement of City in the Streets, which was slated to be in the Arlington section of the city. 

By Jonathan Fisher

President Biden briefed on active shooter situation

President Joe Biden has been briefed on reports of the active shooter situation in Pittsburgh, the White House said. 

No other details about the briefing were immediately available. 

By Madeline Bartos

Power turned off to Broad Street in Garfield

The power was turned off on Broad Street near North Mathilda Street in Garfield, according to sources at KDKA-TV.

By Jonathan Fisher

State police SERT 'Rook' arrives on scene

Pennsylvania State Police briefed the media over the sound of gunfire around 1:30 p.m.

Trooper Rocco Gagliardi said the "Rook," which is a tank-like piece of machinery with an iron plate on an extendable arm, just showed up with their SERT team. Officers can get behind that plate and fire their weapons and can actually go into a structure and break down a door and have a shield, KDKA-TV's Andy Sheehan explained.

Gagliardi broke down officers' approach to getting the suspect out. 

"Well this turns right into an active shooter situation and it proceeds into a barricaded aspect inside a house," Gagliardi said. "First officers on scene arrived very quickly and now that incident is always developing as we just heard about 30 to 40 gunshots go back and forth. So we're actively working with all emergency crews on scene to make sure we end this in the safest way possible." 

Making sure everybody has evacuated safely is the number one priority, he said. He doesn't have a number of how many people have evacuated so far. 

"Right now we're trying to evacuate, you can hear it behind me, our SERT team will be handling what they need to handle," he said over gunfire. 

When asked who was currently shooting, he called it an "active gunfire situation." 

"I think we just sent up a couple more drones. Not the first time -- the suspect did shoot earlier, previous drones. So right now it's an active gunfire situation."

WATCH: Pennsylvania State Police provide update

Pa. State Police provides update on Garfield shooting incident 02:50
By Shelley Bortz

State police major case team taking over investigation

State police said, "The Troop B Major Case Team will be taking over the Active Shooter incident in Garfield. Please follow this account for any and all updates."

By Heather Lang

Sheriff's office says sergeant suffered minor injury avoiding gunfire

A sergeant with the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office suffered a minor injury while trying to avoid gunfire. 

He wasn't shot and he is OK, the sheriff's office said. 

By Madeline Bartos

FBI assisting in Garfield shooting incident

According to KDKA-TV's Meghan Schiller, the FBI is now assisting in the active shooting incident in Garfield. 

By Jonathan Fisher

Attorney says deputies were going to remove squatter

An attorney said the home involved was bought at a sheriff's sale and deputies were going to remove a man who was "basically squatting," knowing it could turn violent. 

Attorney Ed Krug said when the homeowners died, the man currently barricaded inside occupied the house and believed he should be the owner. But because taxes weren't paid, it went to a tax sale.

The people who bought the house at a sheriff's sale wanted to move in, but the man refused to leave. According to Krug, there was information that he had become heavily armed. He said the man was "observed."  

Krug said sheriff's deputies knew that the situation could be violent so they went in fully armed and prepared. Normally two deputies serve eviction notices, but in this case, there was a half dozen, including supervisors, who were wearing body armor and prepared. 

By Madeline Bartos

Officers bringing in robot

Officers are bringing in a robot to help at the scene, KDKA-TV's Meghan Schiller reports.  

By Meghan Schiller

Woman hides in basement as gunfire hits her home: 'Unbearable'

A woman who was barricaded in her basement before she was evacuated shared her story, saying she's alive by the "grace of God." 

Leslie Thompson was at home alone while her husband was at work. She said she was working when she heard "commotion" and then gunfire. She tried to get to the basement for shelter. 

"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."  

She said bullets hit her home. 

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

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

"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."

He said he couldn't get to her to help while she was barricaded, but she called 911 and he got her out.

When asked about the reunion, he gave her a hug and said "It's good to be here." 

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
By Shelley Bortz

The Neighborhood Academy on temporary lockdown

The Neighborhood Academy, a college prep school in Pittsburgh, told KDKA-TV they are on a temporary lockdown. Officials there were notified of the situation and everyone inside of the school is safe. 

By Jonathan Fisher

Witnesses describe scene: 'I heard 30 shots'

As police are working to evacuate part of the neighborhood, witnesses are describing how the shooting began. 

Chris Wilkinson, who is visiting family, said they heard shots being fired.

"In the beginning, all we heard was the cops," Wilkinson 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."  

Calvin Buerkle lives nearby and said he was at home working when he heard gunfire. 

"I was at home working on my computer and I heard about 30 shots and then shortly after I heard a bunch of vehicles with sirens going down the street and it happened to be right at the corner of where I lived," he said. 

"This neighborhood has been pretty safe since I've owned the building and I've never seen anything like this, to be honest. This is a lot of action for Garfield-Bloomfield area," he added.

By Madeline Bartos

UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh statement on shooting incident

The UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh released a statement regarding the active shooting situation in the Garfield section of Pittsburgh. 

"Pittsburgh Police are responding to a shooting incident approximately ½ mile from UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. The individual is accounted for and there is no direct threat to patients, staff or visitors. Enhanced security is now present on campus and will continue through the day."

By Jonathan Fisher

Public safety to begin evacuations on Broad Street

Pittsburgh Public Safety has begun evacuations as SWAT continues to deal with the active shooter situation in Garfield.

Officers will begin getting people out of their homes in the 4800 block of Broad Street.

Anyone who is inside is asked to shelter in place, call 911, and let dispatch know their address.

Police will then get the residents out and to safety. 

We have the latest updates right here

By Patrick Damp
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