3 Wounded in Pittsburgh High School Shooting
Ever since Columbine shook the country to its core in 1999, school shootings have been an ongoing problem plaguing America’s places of learning. In 2007, the Virginia Tech Massacre added to the tragic list, and in 2012, Sandy Hook claimed even more innocent victims. With the seemingly incurable problem of school shootings and gun possession always in the back of the collective American mind, it was cold comfort and a small victory that of the three students wounded in a recent Pittsburgh shooting, no one was killed.
Chaos Erupts in Brashear Shooting
Brashear High School sits on Crane Avenue in Pittsburgh, PA. With some 1,400 students between grades nine and 12 shuffling through the high school’s halls, there is hardly ever a moment of complete peace — but on one grim afternoon this past November, complete chaos erupted.
As classes were letting out for the day on the afternoon of Wednesday the 13th, the normal bustle of idling buses and honking car horns was violently interrupted at 2:50 P.M. when seven to eight gunshots cracked loudly across the premises. Many students fled back toward the apparent safety of the building, leading to initial confusion about the precise location of the shooting. It was quickly determined that the source of the bullets was not the interior or even exterior of the school itself, but the woods nearby — where shooter Anjohnito Willett Jr. was concealing himself.
Willett Jr., 16, was quickly taken into custody, where he was accused of committing a handful of crimes: multiple counts of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment, as well as being in the illegal possession of a gun as a juvenile. Willett Jr.’s attorney, Blaine Jones, is adamant that his client is innocent.
“We had nine family members here,” Jones said. “Four of which traveled from Buffalo, N.Y. Four hours to be here in support of their son that’s never ever been in any type of trouble. Juvenile, adult, nothing. A good kid.”
But not everyone agrees with Jones’ assessment.
Shooting Motivated by a Drug Feud?
Roughly a month previous, on October 18th, Willett Jr. had been involved in another violent attack — this time, as a victim. Authorities believe the October assault on Willett Jr. was motivated by a drug feud, but the 16-year-old refused to identify his attackers or press any charges. Instead, Willett Jr. said that he would “take matters to his own account.”
“My client did not have any kind of ax to grind; he didn’t post anything on Facebook or Twitter or any type of threats, nothing like that. My client has no motive whatsoever to hurt anyone,” defense attorney Jones says.
As for the three victims of the shooting, all male students, none were critically injured. The victims — Robert Minor, 17; Andrew Umphrey, also 17; and DaJour Jones, 15 — were all brought to nearby hospitals in stable, non-life-threatening condition. Robert Minor was grazed by a bullet along the neck, while one other victim’s head was grazed, and the third was shot in the foot and arm.
While no one was killed in the shooting, the community was understandably frightened as the sound of bullets rang out. “We all got into a little bit of a panic,” recalls junior Jacklyn Reft, who was at cheerleading practice when the shots were fired. Aimee Campbell, a local 35-year-old Brashear graduate, weighed in on the incident as well. “It’s very scary knowing that people are not safe to be in this neighborhood,” she lamented. “I feel sorry for all those who were shot today. …It’s a shame. It’s a tragedy.”
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