PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala knows exactly where the Dayton mass killing occurred.

“My son went to Dayton,” Zappala told a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

“The Oregon District is really a nice place to go if you’re ever in that part of Ohio. We’ve been there several times.”

“It’s kind of unthinkable that someone would come down there with an AR-15 and with military type of garb and open up on innocent people.”

Zappala compared the nature of the crime in El Paso with that at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh — a mass killer focused on the ethnicity, race or religion of his victims.

El Paso looks like a hate crime,” he said.

“I don’t know if the federal government will become involved now that they’ve lifted the moratorium on the death penalty.”

“By the way, we’re hoping to hear soon whether or not the federal government will pursue the death penalty in the case involving the Tree of Life since, again, they’ve lifted the moratorium.”


Zappala says his office has filed death penalty cases three times recently in cases involving multiple homicides like Tree of Life and would consider doing so in that case, after consultation with the families affected, if the Feds do not.

“We have the complaint prepared,” he said.

“We’re prepared to arraign the guy. We’re prepared to proceed and take care of business.”

Given the increase in hate crimes, KDKA political editor Jon Delano asked the district attorney whether he had concerns about our security in this region.

“Yeah, I do. I see a lot of very uncivil types of back and forth,” he said.

“I think people have been pushed way left and way right. They’re having trouble finding common ground.”

Social media has amplified differences, and Zappala has taken hits on social media — first, for bringing homicide charges against former police officer Michael Rosfeld and, then, in not winning a guilty verdict against Rosfeld.

“People are passionate about the criminal justice system, and I’m symbolic. I get it. but it’s still an honor to be district attorney,” says Zappala.