Care Home Company Under Scrutiny After Arson, Robberies
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A company that operates care homes in Pittsburgh is under scrutiny.
Three residents have been charged with crimes in Shadyside and North Oakland. The suspects lived in two separate homes operated by Residential Care Services.
On September 17th, 18-year-old James Casson was charged with arson after a fire on Maryland Avenue in Shadyside. He lived in a care home next door.
Keith Williams II and Derrick Bragg lived in a halfway house on Melwood Avenue. They allegedly went around North Oakland, pointing a BB gun at their victims and demanding money Sunday night.
Some of their victims were Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University students.
“As a student, I don’t feel safe anymore living off campus,” Eyasan Kabir said.
The home where Williams and Bragg lived catered to people with mental illness and served as a halfway house allowing individuals to gain independence and learn life skills.
The home is monitored 24 hours a day and residents are supposed to check in with staff to tell them when they are leaving.
The night of the robbery, the suspects did check in, but did not say specifically where they were going.
Mary Jo Dickson, who works with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, manages placement of mental health patients.
“If you look at the research that’s out there, basically people with mental illness are no more violent than people living in the community,” she said.
The department works with individuals who have been in the justice system. Both Williams and Bragg have criminal pasts.