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Large contingent on hand to support wounded police officer
A Duquesne man accused of shooting a city police officer is headed to court.
At a preliminary hearing Thursday morning before Magisterial District Judge Richard D. Olasz Jr. in West Mifflin, Shyhiem Cortez Berry, 28, was ordered held for court on charges of attempted murder of a law-enforcement officer, aggravated assault, making terroristic threats and criminal trespass.
Berry is charged by Allegheny County police in connection with an incident in Duquesne early on the morning of Feb. 22. According to the criminal complaint, police were called to the area of Catherine and Ferndale streets at 12:11 a.m. for reports of a rideshare driver being threatened with a gun.
The driver told police his car was fired upon, but not hit. Dashcam video shown in court picked up sounds and flashes of gunfire erupting at the intersection of Catherine and Ferndale. Moments later, a Duquesne officer arrived on the scene and saw Berry walking along Ferndale.
According to the criminal complaint, Duquesne police Officer Patrick Vroman, 29, pulled behind the defendant and told Berry to put his gun down. That’s when authorities say that Berry shot first with the complaint describes as a “mini-Draco style AK assault weapon,” and hit Vroman in the foot.
The affidavit states the officer returned fire and struck Berry in the leg. Berry was able to barricade himself in an abandoned home along the 600-block of Catherine Street, according to the complaint.
At least one backup Duquesne officer arrived. At 12:41 a.m., Berry called out for help, was apprehended and taken to UPMC McKeesport hospital for the injury. Witnesses at the medical facility say Berry was combative and threatened to “smoke” various people.
Vroman was transported to a local area for treatment for his wound. Investigators said they found around a dozen spent shells at the scene of the crime. Police report that Berry legally owns the weapon.
The case was moved from District Magisterial Judge Scott Shricker’s district court in Duquesne to West Mifflin.
Berry’s attorney, Casey White, asked Olasz to dismiss the charges on the grounds that Berry shot in self-defense. Family members said in Berry’s defense that the police were using a dark, unmarked car with tinted windows, and that Berry was only protecting himself “from being robbed.”
A large number of Duquesne police officers were in the courtroom to support Vroman. Vroman, who was on crutches, is the fifth Pittsburgh-area police officer shot while on the job so far in 2023.
Police kept reporters away from Vroman after the hearing concluded. Berry is being held in the Allegheny County Jail without bail.
Formal arraignment in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court is scheduled for May 9.
Tom Leturgey is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh and the editor of KSWA Digest, the online news and features home of the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance. His work also appears in The Valley Mirror and other publications.
Originally published March 24, 2023.