Pittsburgh police charge man accused of driving through protesters near PNC Park
Pittsburgh police on Friday charged a Bell Acres councilman for allegedly driving through a crowd protesting the shooting death of Antwon Rose on the city’s North Shore last week.
Gregory Wagner, 58, is charged with three counts of recklessly endangering another person and two summary traffic violations — careless driving and driving the wrong way, according to court records.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets near PNC Park on June 22, blocking traffic in a demonstration calling for charges to be filed against Michael Rosfeld, the East Pittsburgh police officer who shot and killed the unarmed Rose as he ran from police June 19.
It was the third night of protests, and crowds and traffic in and around PNC Park for the Pirates game created chaos and shut down multiple streets in the area. That chaos came to a head when a driver in a black sedan drove through the crowd.
The incident happened at the intersection of Tony Dorsett Drive and West General Robinson Street just before 10 p.m. Three people reported injuries to police, including one person with an ankle injury and another with a back injury.
According to the criminal complaint filed against Wagner, surveillance footage from Heinz Field shows the vehicle attempting to make a U-turn in order to get out of traffic and then driving wide around other vehicles, ending up in the crowd at the intersection.
Television news footage showed the vehicle drive through the crowd, pushing protesters out of the way, detectives wrote in the complaint. Protesters began kicking and hitting the vehicle.
One protester took down the license plate number of the vehicle, a black Mercedes-Benz, and detectives matched it to Wagner through PennDOT records, according to the complaint.
Detectives wrote that Wagner’s driver’s license photo matched the description of the driver given by witnesses.
When detectives initially tried to contact Wagner on Monday, he declined to speak with them, according to the complaint.
Two of three witnesses presented with a photo array picked Wagner, police said. The three witnesses said they’d each nearly been struck when Wagner allegedly drove through the crowd.
Police also found damage to Wagner’s Mercedes, including scratches, dents and a smashed rear windshield, detectives wrote.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 11. Wagner was released from custody on his own recognizance.
Robert Max Junker, solicitor for Bell Acres, issued a written statement late Friday.
“The elected and appointed officials of the Borough of Bell Acres were stunned to hear the news reports late this afternoon,” Bell wrote. “Our sympathies are with those injured in last Friday’s protest outside PNC Park.
“We will closely monitor the events as this matter moves through the justice system and we will follow the law as set forth in the Pennsylvania Borough Code and Pennsylvania Constitution.
Staff writer Natasha Lindstrom contributed to this report. Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.