4 stabbed in Pittsburgh Target store
A deranged Pittsburgh man critically stabbed a teenaged girl and four others in a Target store on Monday before he was beaten by several customers and taken into custody, according to police.
Witnesses say 16-year-old Allison Meadows was grabbed by her hair and repeatedly stabbed by the crazed man with a kitchen knife in front of her family while standing in line at an East Liberty store.
'He just kept screaming, "I’ll stab her again," a witness who says he helped fight off the man just after 5.30pm told WTAE.
Critically injured: Allison Meadows, 16, was critically stabbed by a crazed man in a Pittsburgh Target store on Monday afternoon while visiting relatives on spring break
Ruthless attack: Miss Meadows was stabbed multiple times in her arm and back after grabbed by her hair while standing in line to the horror of her family around her
Attacker: Police identified Leon Raymond Walls, 41, as the man they say held the teen as a human shield before repeatedly stabbing her in the store
'He kept stabbing her. Me and like four or five other guys, they ran and tackled him ... He cut the one guy’s lip almost off. The other guy’s finger was, like, hanging off,' he recalled.
The high school sophomore from Silverdale Baptist Academy in Tennessee, said by her school to have been visiting family on spring break, suffered a collapsed lung and several wounds to her arm and her back.
She underwent surgery on Monday night and is expected to make a full recovery, according to her school's Facebook page that identified her along with her family.
Police have since identified the accused attacker as 41-year-old Leon Raymond Walls who allegedly ran into the store after a fight with several men down the street.
Shortly afterward, the knife-wielding man was seen chasing one of his pursuers from a Target restroom, said police spokeswoman Diane Richard.
Improving: Miss Meadows suffered a collapsed lung and several wounds to her arm and her back but said to be doing fine by her family after surgery on Monday night
Timing: The sophomore at Silverdale Baptist Academy in Tennessee was visiting her family in Pittsburgh for spring break when the crazy man ran into the store, stabbing four others as well
The man with the knife then ran toward the checkout lanes and grabbed the girl 'as a shield,' according to a police report obtained by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
'It looked like he was holding her hostage,' said 21-year-old Target shopper Dominique Gomez to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Gomez said the man kept screaming that he had been robbed.
Walls said 'you come close, I'll stab her,' before jutting his knife twice in her back with the knife, according to the police complaint.
'That little girl, he just kept stabbing her. I just couldn't stand there and watch that,' the witness speaking to WTAE who didn't want to be identified said.
He said he used a baseball bat to help disarm and subdue the man until police arrived.
It's unclear if this man was one of the two men police say were the first to chase Walls inside the store. One of those men were described as already carrying a baseball bat at the time.
One shopper Chris Jones told KDKA he had heard a commotion and women screaming upstairs.
‘What I decided to do was run upstairs and help anyone that needed help,’ he said.
Attack: Witnesses said the stabbing appeared to be random and the suspect first stabbed someone on the street before entering the Target store, seen on Monday evening
Staying positive: Just before 9pm on Monday Miss Meadows was able to Tweet this message of thanks out to her family, friends and supporters
By the time he got upstairs Jones said that other customers had detained the suspect.
‘He was getting his tail whooped with a bat, with fists,’ Jones told KDKA. ‘He was getting tore up and I think he deserved it.’
‘Everybody was screaming,’ another witness told the station.
'It was crazy in there. That was horrible. That was something you don't want to see again, ever,' the unidentified witness said.
In all five people were stabbed, according to police.
Police called shortly after 5:30 p.m. used pepper spray and a Taser to subdue Walls.
Chaos: One shopper Chris Jones said he had heard a commotion and women screaming upstairs before seeing the attacker being beaten with a baseball bat
This Target employee said she led people out of the store through the emergency exit
The girl was taken to Children's Hospital in critical condition, but police later said she had been upgraded to serious condition.
The suspect and a police officer were also taken to hospitals to be treated for pepper spray exposure.
A bystander who complained of chest pains was also taken to a hospital.
Witnesses said the stabbing appeared to be random and that the suspect first stabbed someone on the street before entering the Target store.
Walls is currently being held at the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond.
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