Armed Pittsburgh-Area Man Arrested Near Black Church But Police Decline Hate Crime Charges
A white man armed with a shotgun has been accused of threatening two women before attempting to enter a predominantly-Black Greater Dominion Church in Amherst, Pennsylvania. CBS Pittsburgh reported Jeffrey Harris was allegedly pointing a 12-gauge shotgun at two women at the intersection of Duss Avenue and Fourth Street at approximately 9 AM ET. One of those women called the police and described the man, according to Ambridge Police Chief John DeLuca.
“There was a white male, camo vest, red hat, and white T-shirt walking with a possible long gun down Duss Avenue,” DeLuca said.
The pastor and many members of Greater Dominion Church are Black, and some believed that Harris was attempting to gain entry to the church to commit a hate crime.
The Ambridge Police Department received assistance from the Beaver County Regional Police Department. It located Harris in the 300 block of Merchant Street, where they found the shotgun, ammunition, and crystal meth. When officers were sent to Harris’s home, they discovered a house that appeared ready to become the stage for a standoff.
Deluca said, “They found the steps up to the residence had some type of lubrication on them.”
Investigators also discovered a barrier Harris had created, which would have allowed him to fire at anyone entering the residence from cover. Deluca later informed local outlet KDKA TV that he did not believe the incident was a racially motivated attack, but instead, it was due to Harris’s use of crystal meth and his mental state.
However, Pastor Kenneth Crumb of Greater Dominion Church disputes the police account.
“How serious was it to the local police department? They never said one word to us, even when we got out of church, out of service. There’s cars all over the place out here. Police cars, bomb squad, and no one said anything to us,” said Crumb.
Harris faces charges including attempted burglary, aggravated assault, and terrorist threats. His bond was set at $975,000, and a hearing is scheduled for Sept. 5.