Mayor, Police Chief Meet With Family Of Man Police Killed

Jan 24, 2017

The 100-block of Finley Street in Pittsburgh's Larimer neighborhood, where police allegedly shot a homeowner during a reported burglary attempt, not the intruder.
Credit Google Maps

Pittsburgh's mayor and acting police chief on Tuesday met with the family of a homeowner fatally shot by officers responding to a home burglar alarm.

Police say officers shot 57-year-old Christopher Thompkins after someone fired gunshots in their direction as they arrived at Thompkins’ home about 4 a.m. Sunday.

Thompkins’ ex-wife, who was staying with him, says he had grabbed her gun to chase an intruder down the steps toward the front door where the officers were standing. The district attorney is reviewing the shooting and police aren't saying who they believe fired the shots that prompted the officers to return fire.

The alleged intruder has been charged with criminal trespass.

Mayor Bill Peduto and acting Chief Scott Schubert have called the incident a tragedy.

“Chief Schubert and I stopped over just to let the family know that we’re here to help them, to support them,” Peduto said after a Q & A session with students at Point Park University Tuesday afternoon. “It was a horrible tragedy that occurred, and just to let them know that the people of Pittsburgh are with them.”

Peduto did not offer any further details about the ongoing investigation, but said he plans to meet with Chief Schubert and Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich on Wednesday to get an update on the case.

Peduto said the family is planning to move from the home and was making preparations for such when he stopped by for the half-hour meeting. He said they did not indicate to him whether they were staying in the neighborhood.

“They’re heartbroken,” Peduto said. “They lost somebody that they loved dearly, who was instrumental in their family, who was taking care of their mother, who had had her move into the home and they’re picking up the pieces, literally, and trying to move on.”

KDKA-TV reported Monday evening that Christopher Thompkins was convicted of criminal homicide in 1997 for the shooting of Ronald Cunningham, and that his conviction barred him from possessing a firearm.

Peduto said the family had expressed to him that it was important Thompkins be remembered for more than that conviction.

“Mr. Thompkins obviously had some issues in the past, but he had changed,” Peduto said. “He had become the rock of this family and this family had depended upon him for so much.”

Peduto also expressed concern for the two officers involved in the Larimer shooting, who are currently on administrative leave.

“Anytime something like this happens it’s difficult for them as well, so I just want to make sure they understand we’re there for them as well while all of this is going on,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.