Officer Shot In PGH. ~ The Story
Search on for man who shot Forest Hills policeman
Monday, April 25, 2005
By Amy McConnell Schaarsmith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The man who shot Forest Hills Police Officer Matthew Livingstone in the chest Saturday night remained free yesterday despite a sweeping search of the eastern suburbs by more than 150 police officers from 20 departments.
Livingstone, 26, is the third Forest Hills officer in less than two years to be shot and injured while on duty. He was taken to Mercy Hospital, where police officers and city officials joined his family members and friends to await news of his condition.
Forest Hills Mayor Ray Heller Jr. said he was stunned that another of his officers had been shot on the job.
"Shock, disbelief, denial," Heller said of hearing about the shooting and then rushing to Mercy Hospital. "It's just too hard to explain. At some point, you just go on autopilot."
Mercy officials would not release information about Livingstone's condition yesterday. But Heller said when he saw Livingstone after his injury, the officer seemed alert and awake, and was able to ask whether other officers at the scene had been hurt.
Livingstone was shot at least once in or near one of his lungs despite his bulletproof vest, according to Heller. The vest was a better-quality version of one made by Michigan-based Second Chance Body Armor that failed to stop a bullet June 23, injuring Officer Edward Limbacher.
Limbacher, who was working with the state attorney general's drug task force in Forest Hills at the time, was wearing a Monarch Level IIA manufactured by Second Chance when he was shot through the vest.
"It was the same company, but a better vest," Heller said of Livingstone's body armor.
Allegheny County Police officials said yesterday they hadn't checked yet to see if the bullet penetrated Livingston's vest, and that the round might have entered the officer's body through his unprotected shoulder area.
Sgt. Edward Hinchey was shot in the groin while responding to a call in Wilkins in November.
On Saturday evening, shoppers at the Braddock Hills Shopping Center on Yost Boulevard called police to report a suspicious-looking man who appeared to be hiding behind the columns outside the vacant Builder's Square hardware store.
"It really looked like he was staking out some of the businesses in the shopping center," Heller said.
Forest Hills dispatches 911 calls for Braddock Hills as part of the area's mutual aid compact, so Livingstone was the first officer to arrive at the scene at about 7:30 p.m., with several other officers just a few seconds behind him, according to Allegheny County Police Superintendent Charles Moffatt.
The video camera inside Livingstone's car captured an image of the suspect walking in front of the car, his head turned to look toward Livingstone. The officer didn't even have a chance to speak to the suspect before the man shot him, Moffatt said.
"It was within seconds of his exiting the car," Moffatt said.
Other officers arrived moments later, and saw the suspect running away from the shopping plaza. The suspect is a black man in his 20s wearing a dark, puffy jacket and either a baseball cap or a tassel cap bearing a logo. He appeared to be about 5 feet 10 inches tall, according to Moffatt.
The videotape also recorded several cars present during the shooting that apparently left the scene, according to the police. The police would like to speak to those drivers or any other witnesses. Forest Hills police can be reached at 412-351-4141; Allegheny County police can be reached at 412-473-3000.
Based on witness reports, the suspect fled into a wooded hilly area and crossed Ardmore Boulevard near the Forest Hills police station. He worked his way through back yards into Wilkins, then crossed Greensburg Pike at about 8:15 p.m. "so he was traveling pretty good, and all on foot," Heller said.
The suspect was being trailed by about 150 police officers from 20 departments, K-9 units and a helicopter, but he ran into more wooded hills and the trail went cold, according to the police.
Anyone who sees someone matching the suspect's description should report the information to the police and stay away from that person, according to Forest Hills officials.
"He's still very dangerous," Heller said. "He shot at a police officer. He'll shoot at anybody."
(Amy McConnell Schaarsmith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1548.)
Meanwhile 2nd Chance Body Armor
Has anybody heard the latest word on 2nd Chance Body Armor???
Last I heard they were being sued by The State Of Pennsylvania?
And were in some other trouble concerning the particular Kevlar that their vests were made of?
Then I heard they were going out of business. All web rumor or fact?