Homeless man who ‘went on stabbing spree in Pittsburgh Target store’ is arrested as 16-year-old victim he ‘used as a shield’ recovers after surgery
- Leon Raymond Walls, 41, has been charged with attempted homicide after the vicious attack
- Stabbing spree allegedly started with an attack on a man at a construction site around the corner from the Target store
- Allison Meadows, 16, was visiting family for spring break when witnesses say she was grabbed by the knife-wielding man in front of her family
- High school sophomore was repeatedly stabbed in her arm and back, suffering a collapsed lung
PUBLISHED: 21:21 EST, 25 March 2013 | UPDATED: 20:38 EST, 26 March 2013
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
A deranged homeless man has been arrested after he allegedly stabbed a teenaged girl to within an inch of her life and injured four others in a Pittsburgh Target store on Monday.
Leon Raymond Walls, 41, has been charged with attempted homicide after the vicious attack, which ended with several customers wrestling a bloody kitchen knife out of his grasp and calling police.
Witnesses said Walls grabbed Allison Meadows, 16, by her hair and repeatedly stabbed her with the knife in front of her family as they stood 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.
‘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, 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 said Walls, who was wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service for an unspecified probation violation, 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, according to police spokeswoman Diane Richard.
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
Walls then allegedly ran toward the checkout lanes with the knife and grabbed the girl ‘as a shield,’ according to a police report obtained by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
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.
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
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.
‘That little girl, he just kept stabbing her. I just couldn’t stand there and watch that’
– witness who helped fight off attacker
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.
Police used pepper spray and a Taser to subdue Walls.
According to the criminal complaint, the stabbing spree started when Walls attacked a man named Jobe Wright at a nearby construction site.
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
Police said Walls ran down the street and into the Target, with Wright and Tyrique Walker following closely behind. The two men called 911 to report the crazed man, and another man, Roland Smith, grabbed a baseball bat, according to police.
Walls entered the store at around 5:30 p.m. and when he saw Walker, he ‘attempted to stab him with a large swing at his neck area,’ the complaint read, according to WTAE.
Walls missed his target then hurried over to the checkout area where he began to stab additional victims, including the teen.
‘I took a peek at the top of the steps, and the guy was chasing the dude around with a long, long knife. It was a long, long knife. He was chasing him around through the aisles,’ a witness told the station.
In all five people were stabbed, according to police, with six in total taken to a hospital.
One of those was a police officer who was treated for pepper spray exposure along with the suspect.
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
Screams: Witnesses to the scene overheard a bunch a screaming on one level of the store, leading to the horrific scene near the registers, some of the store’s aisles pictured
The girl was taken to Children’s Hospital in critical condition, but police later said she had been upgraded to serious condition.
A man originally reported by police as a bystander was transported after complaining of chest pains was also taken to a hospital. He’s listed in stable condition.
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.
He’s being charged with criminal attempt homicide, aggravated assault, REAP, unlawful restraint,
possessing instruments of a crime, simple assault and resisting arrest.
Silverdale Baptist Academy headmaster Becky Hansard told Channel 4 Action News on Tuesday that Meadows’ lung was ‘working well’ after surgeons managed to inflate it.
‘She doesn’t need any medical assistance or equipment at all, so we’re very, very pleased about that,’ said Hansard.
‘I truly believe that God used that conditioning and athletic body that Allison has to really help her come through this very well.’