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The organizers of a North Versailles Twp. hayride announced Monday they are committed to continuing the event following a shooting on Saturday in which one teen-ager was killed and another one seriously wounded.
In a statement released via social media, Haunted Hills Hayride said “our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims associated with the senseless act of violence that occurred at our facility.”
According to Allegheny County police, a teen-ager from Penn Hills who was attempting to intervene in an altercation near the event’s ticket booth was shot and killed by another youth, who then fled the scene.
The victim, Steven Eason, 15, was a student at Central Catholic High School. Another teen-ager, a student at Penn Hills High School, was shot in the shoulder, officials said.
Police initially said Eason was a Wilmerding resident, but officials at Penn Hills School District said his family resides in that community.
The hayride, in its 22nd year, is a Halloween-themed attraction located on Route 48 just north of Route 30. Proceeds from this year’s event are benefiting the Autism Society of Pittsburgh.
The hayride organizers said in an unsigned statement that “the safety of all persons associated with our family fun oriented event has always been a priority since we started 22 years ago.
“After meeting with members of our event staff and with an outpouring of support from the community and our fan base, it has been determined that we cannot let an isolated bad act stop the good of what the Haunted Hills Hayride provides,” they said. “Accordingly, we will resume our scheduled dates of operation as stated online.”
The organization also thanked first responders from the Fire Department of North Versailles emergency medical team, North Versailles Twp. police and the Allegheny County police.
County police said the assailant was described as a 15 to 17-year-old Black male, between 5-feet-9 and 6 feet tall, with a slender build. He was wearing dark clothing.
Witnesses said he was carrying a dark-colored backpack and fled toward a parking lot.
Police estimated between 50 and 100 people were in the area when the shooting took place. The hayride had opened only a few minutes earlier.
Detectives are asking anyone who may have cell phone video of the incident or its aftermath to call Allegheny County police at at 1-833-ALL-TIPS (1-833-255-8477). Callers may remain anonymous, police said.
Originally published September 13, 2021.