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Job loss blamed in gunfire

Van Johnson looked down what he described as his normally quiet West Oakland street to see SWAT trucks surrounding a smoky building.

“It was pretty traumatic,” said Johnson, 58, who has lived on Moultrie Street for six years. “We’ve had some things happen, but nothing with SWAT.”

Police responded Monday about 8 p.m. after a woman told authorities that a tenant in the two-story brick building fired a shotgun at her when she tried to collect rent. When police arrived, they heard at least one gunshot and saw a small fire on the second floor of the building near the Birmingham Bridge, police said.

SWAT officers used an armored vehicle to protect firefighters, who doused the fire from outside the building.

A man’s body was found inside the building about 11 p.m. with a shotgun wound in the head, police said. The death has been ruled a suicide, a spokesman for the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office said. Authorities were still trying to find his relatives Tuesday night.

Police were told the man might have lost his job, Cmdr. Tim O’Connor said.

“Who knows what pushes people to this extreme?” O’Connor said. “That may have been a factor.”

Johnson said he sometimes sees the building’s tenants but doesn’t know them.

“I was shocked,” he said. “There’s typical street stuff, but this is a really quiet street.”

The American Red Cross was assisting nine adults with food, clothing and shelter, a spokeswoman said.


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