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'There Is A Danger To The Community': Manhunt Intensifies For Koby Francis After Shooting Of McKeesport Officer Gerasimos Athans

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The manhunt continues today for Koby Francis, who Allegheny County Police say is a "danger to the community" after shooting a McKeesport police officer on Sunday.

According to court paperwork, Francis, 22, is accused of shooting Officer Gerasimos Athans, who is 32-years-old and is a four-year veteran of the McKeesport Police Department.

"We strongly encourage him [Francis] to turn himself in so he can face justice," said Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough at a Monday morning news conference.

koby-francis-mugshot copy
(Courtesy: Allegheny County Police)

A warrant is out for Francis' arrest on charges of criminal attempt homicide, escape, flight to avoid apprehension, aggravated assault and firearms violations.

The situation started just before 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon with Francis being served a "Protection from Abuse" order at the McKeesport Police station.

According to the criminal complaint, it was just a short time later when police were called to Harrison Village where "Francis was attempting to get his infant child from a relative who was babysitting."


Francis left before police arrived on the scene.

Then, just before 4 p.m., police were called again, this time to Yester Square, for a PFA violation in progress. When officers arrived at the scene, they say they found Francis sitting in his Ford Escape outside of a home.

He was arrested.

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Police say he also does not have a valid driver's license, and they found a gun was found inside the vehicle.

Once inside Officer Athans' police car, investigators say Francis combative. The criminal complaint reports he attempted to kick out one of the vehicle's windows.

Police say at the McKeesport Police station, Officer Athans walked over to the passenger side to get Francis out of the vehicle. However, that's when the shots rang out. Police say Francis was able to get his handcuffed hands out in front of him.

(Source: Allegheny County Police/McKeesport Police)

Officer Athans initially suffered a gunshot wound to the neck. He then circled around to the front of the vehicle for cover.

It's not clear if police conducted a body search or just assumed Francis had no other weapons.

"This is an armed suspect who is obviously dangerous. He fled still armed. There is a danger to the community," Supt. McDonough said. "We want it to end right here. We want this to be the last harm inflicted by that individual or any other individuals. That's our primary concern."

The criminal complaint says "Francis continued firing at Officer Athans, striking him two more times in his left shoulder." Police say Officer Athans returned fire as Francis ran away.

(Source: Allegheny County Police/McKeesport Police)

The entire incident was recorded on surveillance video outside of the station. Investigators say they later found a silver .32-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver in an alleyway near where Officer Athans had parked his patrol vehicle.

"As you can see from this video, this is an obviously armed suspect," Supt. McDonough said. "There is a danger to the community."

While community members urged police to bring Francis in unharmed and alive, there are allegations that officers have engaged in warrantless searches with guns drawn.

"There are children who had guns pointed at them, babies. In their homes, in their vehicles, in their cars. That is unacceptable," said Fawn Walker-Montgomery with Take Action Mon Valley.

WATCH: Allegheny Co. Police Release Surveillance Video --

Officer Athans was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital for treatment of his wounds. Police say he is doing well. He was released from the hospital and is recovering at home on Monday night.

"It is a very difficult time, and our officers are doing their job and we are all being thorough," said McKeesport Chief Adam Alfer.

Prior to taking the job in McKeesport four years ago, Officer Athans work in Braddock under Police Chief Guy Collins, who would not second guess the police actions.

"Probably finding the one firearm they did find, it is my understanding there was some struggle, they probably thought that was it," Collins said.

"It's just by the grace of God that he's still with us because it could have turned out a lot worse than it did," Collins added.

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Supt. McDonough said "our hearts go out to the Athans family;" thankfully, Officer Athans will be able to spend Christmas with his family.

Anyone with information on Francis' whereabouts is being asked to call the Allegheny County Police Tip Line at 1-833-ALL-TIPS, or 1-833-255-8477.

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