- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A city man wanted on child-rape charges was hit by seven bullets fired by two different guns when members of a U.S. marshal’s-led fugitive task force tried to arrest him two days ago, the district attorney announced Thursday.

A shotgun was also fired, but did not strike Leslie Sapp III, 47, according to Allegheny County district attorney’s spokesman Mike Manko.

The DA’s office and city police are investigating the shooting, which city Chief Cameron McLay said occurred after Sapp confronted the officers with what turned out to be a BB gun after they burst into his home about 7:15 a.m. But investigators have yet to specify how many officers were present, which ones fired the weapons, or the agencies for which they worked.

Allegheny County Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams ruled that Sapp died of “multiple gunshot wounds,” but he has declined to comment more specifically during the investigation.

The Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office and the Pennsylvania State Police each confirmed having one officer at the scene when Sapp was killed by task force members who forced their way into his two-story home.

Kevin Kraus, the chief deputy sheriff in Allegheny County, told The Associated Press that officers had tried to find Sapp at least 30 times at the home since city police charged him in July with repeatedly raping a young girl since 2011.

U.S. Marshal Steven Frank in Pittsburgh wouldn’t say how many of his deputies were involved and referred all questions to the city police, who didn’t immediately comment Thursday.

At a media briefing Tuesday evening, McLay stopped short of specifically saying Sapp aimed the weapon at them.

“This individual confronted our officers with this weapon, adopted, presented it in a manner consistent with what one would use when trained to use a handgun against officers,” McLay said then. “The officers fired to defend themselves.”

State police spokeswoman Maria Finn said the trooper involved has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is normal during such investigations. She would not identify the trooper, but said he’s assigned to the task force full-time.

Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen likewise didn’t name his deputy involved, but confirmed he fired shots during the encounter and is also on paid leave.

Mullen wouldn’t comment on the shooting but said the task force typically uses teams of seven or eight officers to serve arrest warrants.

“It’s not quite like a SWAT entry, and they practice a lot because of the number of marshals that have been shot in the past several years,” Mullen said.

A friend of Sapp’s, Melissa Brown, 41, of Pittsburgh, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review she went to Sapp’s home afterward and saw evidence that a side door had been forced open and saw six to eight gunshot holes along a stairwell wall leading to the second floor. The AP could not immediately reach Brown at several phone numbers listed under her name in online directories.

Mullen said deputies involved in shootings are also referred for psychological help to deal with the trauma, especially when a suspect is killed. The trauma of shooting someone is often greater than being shot at, he said.

“We’ve been shot at and not sent them,” Mullen said. “But when they’re there, witnessing (someone being shot), there’s an impact on their life.”

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