Police seek suspect accused in Hempfield Twp. shooting

DARNELL ALBERT DENNISON

State police are searching for a Hempfield Township man accused of shooting a teen during an alleged drug deal Tuesday afternoon at the Hempfield Heights apartment complex.

Darnell Albert Dennison, 19, fled the scene following the shooting, which occurred around 3:45 p.m. at Building H of the apartment complex on West Hills Drive in Hempfield Township, police said.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, troopers responded to a report of a shooting at the apartment complex and located a 17-year-old boy with a gunshot wound to his right shoulder in a parking lot. The boy was transported to UPMC Presbyterian for treatment, according to police.

Police interviewed a 20-year-old man who was providing medical aid to the boy when troopers arrived and who said he was with the victim in Dennison’s apartment at the time of the shooting. The witness told police that he and the victim had arranged via Facebook to meet Dennison, who uses the profile name “Skramm Bo,” and said that Dennison was going to sell them marijuana, according to court documents.

The witness told police he and the victim entered Dennison’s apartment and spoke briefly with him before Dennison gave them a small amount of marijuana, according to the affidavit. Dennison walked the witness to the door, with the victim following them, the witness told police, then spotted a gun in the victim’s waistband and asked “Is that my gun?”

Dennison grabbed for the gun and gained control of it following a struggle, then stepped back and fired one shot from a different firearm into the victim’s shoulder, according to the affidavit. The witness described the gun used in the shooting as a black, semiautomatic pistol with an extended magazine, and told police he saw Dennison “peeking around the corner of one of the buildings while (the witness) was treating the victim,” Tpr. Robert Politowski wrote in the affidavit.

Troopers searched Dennison’s apartment, according to the affidavit, locating bundles of heroin, suspected crack cocaine and two unfired 9mm handgun rounds.

Police were able to make contact with Dennison by phone around 11:12 p.m. Tuesday, according to court documents. Dennison told police the incident began as a drug deal and said the gun went off during a struggle with the victim.

According to court documents, Dennison said the victim briefly stayed behind in the apartment after Dennison had given marijuana to the witness and walked him to the door. Dennison told police that as the boy approached the apartment door, he spotted more marijuana in the boy’s pocket and believed the boy was trying to rip him off. When Dennison confronted the victim, he told police, the boy tried to pull the gun from his waistband and the gun went off during a struggle.

Police said the firearm used in the shooting has not been recovered.

Police charged Dennison with aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, delivery of a controlled substance and illegal firearm possession. Dennison had not been arraigned on the charges as of early Thursday morning, according to court documents.

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