PENN HILLS (KDKA) — Staff and students of Penn Hills High School are trying to make sense of an incident that left one of the district’s teachers dead.
Don Babbit, 49, was a beloved math teacher at Penn Hills High School. He taught at the school for 20 years, and several people say he made a difference.
Heather Capone posted to her Facebook page, saying in part:
“A truly great teacher is not one who only teaches from the lessons. They are the ones who take time for their students both within class and beyond. You challenged my son daily to the point where when he came home, the thinking and discussions continued.”
Leonard Hammonds II said he had Babbit his senior year of high school.
“Mr. Babbit was a great man with a passion for education and impacting his students. He will be greatly missed,” said Hammonds.
Police went to Babbit’s Shaler Township home around 3 p.m. Tuesday. His wife told police he was acting erratically outside and they had weapons inside the house. Police said Babbit barricaded himself inside the home, and ignored calls from police to surrender and put down his handgun.
“He walked toward the officers waving the weapon. The officers gave him repeated commands to drop the weapon; however, he soon pointed the weapon at an officer. Three officers fired at the subject and struck him multiple times,” said Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough.
“I saw Don coming out of his garage. … I didn’t see what he had in his hands, but the police ordered him to stop, hands up,” neighbor Patti Turano said. “They did it several times and he just kept going and he was shot many times and dropped to the ground.”
Babbit was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Kayli Plavetzky, 17, said she was friends with one of the Babbit’s’ two children and what she saw Tuesday frightened her.
“I was laying out by my pool, so I looked up and I saw my neighbor, who was naked in his backyard and that was not normal to me so I called my mom,” Plavetzky said.
Plavetzky said before she saw Babbit, she heard loud voices coming from inside his house.
“He walked down through here and we had a thing that filters the pool put that on his head and he walked back,” Plavetzky said.
Two of the officers involved in the shooting are from Shaler. The third is from Hampton Township. They’ve been placed on routine administrative leave.
WATCH: KDKA’s Brenda Waters report on Babbit’s death.
Penn Hills Superintendent Dr. Nancy Hines put out an updated statement today:
“Penn Hills has shown repeatedly its heart and resiliency in times of struggle. In these moments, we have also displayed courage and solidarity. As we face yet another tragedy, we realize it is not our place to judge or even speculate about what’s being reported in the media. Rather, we ask everyone to keep Don and his family in your thoughts and prayers. We also ask the media to respect our community’s privacy as we attempt to grieve.”
Grief counselors will be in the high school cafeteria through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.