Police charge 2 teens in Brighton Heights church shootings; no motive yet


Pittsburgh police arrested two teenagers they say were involved in Friday’s shooting at a Brighton Heights church that left six people injured and caused a scene described as “chaotic.”

Shawn Davis, 19, of McKees Rocks and Hezekiah Nixon, 16, of Pittsburgh are facing multiple charges including attempted homicide, aggravated assault and gun charges.

Police say Davis and Nixon fired multiple shots outside the Destiny of Faith Church around noon where people were attending a funeral service for John Hornezes Jr., of the North Side. Hornezes was among three people shot and killed earlier this month near what police have called an open-air drug market at Allegheny Commons.

In their account of Friday’s incident, police did not include a motive for the shootings. Five people were shot and a sixth person was hurt trying to escape the scene. A horse was hit by a bullet fragment.

Responding officers had received several alerts for shots fired along Benton Avenue where the church is located. They arrived to find “many people screaming and frantically exiting the church,” criminal complaints filed in the case read. One victim, who had been shot in the foot was seen being loaded into the back of a minivan. They were among the injured taken to nearby Allegheny General Hospital.

According to the criminal complaints:

Inside the church lobby, two victims — one who had been shot in the chest and another who was shot in the foot — were surrounded by mourners.

Police rendered aid to the first victim who was “bleeding heavily from the chest.” That person was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Two victims, including the one who was shot in the foot, were taken the hospital by private vehicle. Another, who had been shot in the ankle, was taken to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

A a sixth victim was treated for injuries suffered while trying to escape.

Officers determined the scene was “expansive,” extending from the church to the 1300 block of Benton Avenue and onto Brighton Road.

About 20 9mm bullet shells were found in the corner of the church property, while two were found on Brighton Road, along with multiple bullet fragments and their copper jackets.

Three unoccupied vehicles were struck by bullets.

According to surveillance footage obtained from the scene, two people — later identified as Davis and Nixon — were seen walking to the church from Benton Avenue.

Both wore black masks and had guns with extended magazines.

Seconds after they walk toward the church, one of them begins shooting at a man who is standing on the sidewalk. He falls to the ground near a horse that pulled a carriage carrying the casket.

The horse appears to be struck by gunfire and begins to limp toward the road.

Several people who were outside at the time of the shooting “can be seen limping back into the front vestibule of the church.”

Seconds later, cameras show the shooters flee the scene down Benton Avenue.

Footage obtained from area businesses then show a Hyundai Elantra — which was seen in the area about 35 minutes prior to the shooting — drive up Viruth Street minutes after the shooting. Surveillance videos show the driver wearing similar clothing to that of one of the shooters.

Detectives found the car, which belongs to Davis, parked in Wenonah Alley near Ridge Avenue and Eighth Street. Detectives, who positioned themselves around the car, later saw two people walking from an apartment to the car around 5:40 p.m. One person, identified as Davis, got into the drivers seat and another, Nixon, got into the passengers seat.

The two drove away, turning onto Ridge Avenue. Detectives followed and attempted to catch up to them as they were crossing the McKees Rocks Bridge.

Officers caught up with the car, which was stuck in construction traffic, and conducted a traffic stop.

At that point, Davis and Nixon got out.

According to the arrest papers filed against them, Nixon ran toward McKees Rocks and was seen throwing a gun with an extended magazine into the river. Davis was seen holding a gun, which he dropped onto the roadway.

They were both ordered to the ground, handcuffed and arrested without further incident.

They were taken to Pittsburgh police headquarters where officers said Davis was wearing clothes similar to one of the shooters seen in surveillance footage.

Nixon was wearing different clothes, but during a search of the apartment, police sayd they found clothes matching the other shooter’s description.

At the apartment they also found three firearm magazines, one that was loaded with 9mm ammunition and two that were empty.

They later located Davis’s gun, which was identified as a .40-caliber pistol.

A background check showed that Davis pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in 2020, making it illegal for him to posses a gun him a person that cannot possess a firearm.

Nixon isn’t allowed to have a gun because he is underage.

Davis and Nixon are both charged with four counts of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, aggravated cruelty to an animal, carrying a firearm without a license, and recklessly endangering another person.

Preliminary hearings have not yet been scheduled.

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan by email at mtomasic@triblive.com or via Twitter .