Source: CBS News
Ronald Taylor, 39, the black man accused of a shooting rampage that killed three white men and left two others critically wounded, has been charged with a hate crime. He also admitted to a history of mental illness.
A charge of ethnic intimidation, Pennsylvania’s legal term for a hate crime, was added Thursday to a string of charges, including criminal homicide, that were filed against the suspect just after the shootings. Court documents said he shot the men with malicious intent “toward white males.”
“The general tenor was that he wasn’t shooting anybody but whites,” Allegheny County homicide Lt. John Brennan said.
Authorities also said “anti-white” writings were found in his apartment after Wednesday’s attacks. Brennan refused to release the contents of the writings.
“They were just some of his thoughts,” he said. “It was basically anti-white, anti-Jew.”
A court affidavit said some of the writings also denigrated Asians, police, Italians and the news media. One document was labeled “The Satan List” and listed the addresses of buildings in Wilkinsburg. Kenneth Fulton of the Allegheny County Police told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the two fast-food restaurants in Taylor’s path were not on the list.
The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement condemning hate crimes and calling the shooting “a horrible, isolated incident.”
Taylor was initially charged with two counts of criminal homicide, a charge covering murder and manslaughter in Pennsylvania. Police on Thursday added five counts of aggravated assault, a firearms charge, one count of causing a catastrophe and an arson charge – for allegedly setting his apartment on fire.
A third victim, Emil Sanielevici, 20, died late Thursday, long after the rampage ended in a standoff at an office building in suburban Pittsburgh.
At Thursday’s court hearing, District Justice Alberta Thompson asked Taylor if he had any criminal record or history of drug use, and he said no.
When she asked if he had any history of mental illness, he said yes. The judge did not ask him to elaborate, and mental health records in Pennsylvania are confidential.
Taylor was released from a psychiatric unit at St. Francis Medical Center six months ago, after spending more than a month in the hospital, the Post-Gazette reported.
While the FBI said it has initiated a civil rights investigation into the shootings, authorities said it was still unclear whether Taylor’s only motivation was racial.
“Obviously, we’re still getting a lot of information from witnesses about comments he made and things about shooting white people,” said Wilkinsburg Police Chief Gerald Brewer. “There’s a lot of anger and hostility in this individual, so I think it’s a little premature to simply define this as a racist event.”
As the investigation into the shooting continues, the mourning for the victims has just begun.
The first man killed in the rampage, John Kroll, had just finished repairing the door at Taylor’s apartment when he was shot in the chest, police said. Mike DeWitt, another handyman who worked with Kroll, said Kroll never looked for an argument with anyone.
After shooting Kroll, police said, Taylor walked toward a strip of fast-food restaurants. The next to die, from a shot in the head at a Burger King around the corner, was Joseph Healy, 71, a tall, bearded former priest turned professional storyteller.
Sanielevici had been sitting in a McDonald’s drive-through lane when Taylor opened fire, police said. Sanielevici had lingered on life-support with a diagnosis of brain-dead since the shooting.
Two other men, Richard Clinger and Steven Bostard, were also shot at the McDonald’s. Clinger, a self-employed handyman, was upgraded from critical to serious condition at UPMC-Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh. Bostard, an assistant manager at the McDonald’s, remained in critical condition at the same hospital.
Clinger was sitting in his van with his stepdaughter in the restaurant’s parking lot. As she ran in to use the restroom, he dialed his wife on a cellular phone. They had taken a break from a plumbing job to purchase a part.
A man walked up like he was going to ask for directions, but instead began shooting, said Clinger’s stepdaughter, Candy Zambo. The gunman fired, shattering the driver’s side window and hitting Clinger. Zambo was not hurt.
After the shooting, the gunman walked into the McDonald’s. It was there, police said, that he shot Bostard, the last victim, before he fled to a nearby office building.
Bostard, 25, an assistant manager in the McDonald’s, was behind the counter, when Taylor came in. As Taylor stepped behind the counter, Bostard asked if he needed some help. Taylor shot him in the right side of the head, Bostard’s co-worker, Henry Smith, 23, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Smith, who is black, was not harmed. He said Taylor turned around and returned to the parking lot, where he allegedly shot Sanielevici.
Hours later, after a hostage standoff, Taylor surrendered to police.
The gun Taylor used in the shootings was purchased from a high-volume dealer termed a “bad apple” in a study made last year by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY.