Detective Testifies Robert Thomas Is Considered To Be A Suspect


PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Bond has been revoked for a man questioned in connection with a mass shooting in Wilkinsburg.

On Wednesday, Robert Thomas, 27, and three others were arrested on various charges, including possession of narcotics with intent to deliver and receiving stolen property in the form of firearms. Meanwhile, survivor Lamont Powell had a court appearance on an outstanding charge.

While in custody, Thomas was questioned about the Wilkinsburg shooting that left five adults and an unborn child dead.

At a bond hearing this morning, Thomas arrived in the courtroom of Judge David Cashman. He was accompanied by at least six Allegheny County sheriff’s deputies.

The bond hearing directly involved the drug and weapons case in which Thomas is accused of having access to both heroin and six weapons, including an assault weapon.

But, the prosecution also put the detective on the stand who testified about police interest in Thomas, as the prosecution argued that Thomas is a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Judge Cashman agreed and revoked his bond.

Thomas is among four people questioned this week about the Wilkinsburg shootings, including Cheron Shelton, 29, who was questioned a week ago and again this week.

Thomas’s attorney thinks investigators are rushing to judgment, particularly as it relates to his client.

“I think that some names were brought up, some old cases were looked up and the individuals that have recharged now a third time were brought in and questioned. And because they’re not cooperating, because I don’t believe any of those individuals have any idea what happened, none of them are involved, especially my client and they want them to talk and they’re not because they don’t have anything to do with it and they’re not providing information that the Commonwealth thinks that they have but they don’t have,” attorney Casey White said.

Police went to an apartment in Wilkinsburg to serve some warrants, including one for Shelton.

When they went inside the home and searched the residence, they found various guns in the front bedroom including an assault rifle, various handguns and a revolver. They also found ammunition.

In the middle living room, police say they found $8,402 in cash and a prescription. In the kitchen, police found heroin and drug paraphernalia.

At the end of March, Shelton was arrested for charges stemming from a March 12 search of a home in Homewood in which weapons and ammunition were seized.

He was questioned about the Wilkinsburg mass shooting at that time as well. On Wednesday, he was questioned for a second time.

Police have not called Shelton a suspect in the Wilkinsburg case, but are still investigating whether or not he’s connected.

Police have been looking at the possibility that two gunmen were sent to Wilkinsburg to carry out what’s being described as an alleged “revenge killing.”

Police say one suspect, armed with the handgun, approached a backyard barbecue on Franklin Avenue from one direction and started shooting.

Then, as the approximately 15 people at the party tried to run inside the home, the second gunman walked up to the crime scene from a small alley on the other side of the house. That suspect began shooting with an AK-47-style rifle. A total of 49 shell casings were recovered.

The victims were identified as:

  • Jerry Shelton, 35
  • Tina Shelton, 37
  • Brittany Powell, 27
  • Chanetta Powell, 25
  • Shada Mahone, 26

Chanetta was eight months pregnant when she was murdered.

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