Two Dead, Three Critical In Wake of Wilkinsburg Shooting Spree

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - Two people are dead and three are in critical condition at area hospitals after a gunman on an enraged, random shooting spree fired into lunchtime patrons at adjacent fast food restaurants in the Pittsburgh suburb of Wilkinsburg.

The shooter, tentatively identified by police as Robert "Dante" Taylor, a black man in his mid- to late-thirties, was apprehended after hiding out for nearly three hours in an office building near the crime scene. Police negotiators were responsible for Taylor's surrender, according to Allegheny County Police Superintendent Thomas Sturgeon.

Police confined the shooter to the first floor of the building and brought his brother and sister to the scene to talk him out peacefully. It was not know whether the siblings contributed to the shooter's surrender.

Reports from KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh said Taylor may have been disgruntled about being fired from his job. Police were first called to the area after shots were fired in his apartment building, where he had apparently had an altercation with a maintenance worker because his apartment door was not fixed quickly enough. An unconfirmed report from KDKA said he shot the maintenance worker in the neck and then set his apartment on fire.

The suspect then walked to the nearby McDonald's and Burger King, shooting five victims at random. Each victim was struck with one bullet.

Roy Dansro, a nursing home administrator stuck in the same building where Taylor hid from police, lamented negative fame the small town has now received: "Wilkinsburg was finally starting to comeback," he said.

In fact, Wilkinsburg is part of Operation Target, an anti-gun program in the Pittsburgh region that President Clinton called a model for law enforcement nationwide.

The program is an effort by the US Attorney and other law enforcement agencies to crack down on illegal gun trafficking and gun violence by sending offenders to prison with harsh terms. Operation Target has resulted in at least 18 federal indictments in 4 months, with 13 charged at the state level and 20 other cases pending.