PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two women were stabbed, one fatally, right in front of a police officer late Thursday morning in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh.
The incident was reported around 11:40 a.m. at 6th and Smithfield Streets, at a Port Authority bus shelter. The scene is not far from a Rite Aid, Burlington Coat Factory and the entrance to the Duquesne Club.
According to witnesses, a least one of the victims may have been wearing a hijab, a garment worn by Muslim women.
Janice Purdue-Dance, age 61, of Erie, was the victim killed in the attack.
According to Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert, a Zone 1 police officer was patrolling the area when he noticed a woman sleeping under a bus shelter.
The officer turned his patrol car around to check on the woman.
Chief Schubert says as the officer was talking with her, the suspect came around his back and struck the woman with a knife. The suspect then turned around and stabbed a second woman.
Police say the officer jumped into action, disarming and subduing the suspect.
“The officer took immediate action, got the person down on the ground, got him in custody and then immediately started first aid on female to help her out,” Chief Schubert said.
The man was taken to Pittsburgh Police headquarters for questioning. Pittsburgh Public Safety officials say charges are likely.
In a press release, the Pittsburgh Public Safety Department said:
“At this time there is no evidence to suggest that this attack was racially or religiously motivated. The woman at the bus stop was not wearing religious garb, but the second victim may have been wearing a hijab. Police are investigating and will explore all possible motives.”
The women were taken to a local hospital for treatment. The woman the officer stopped to check on has died after being stabbed in the neck and the other had minor injuries, police said.
“We pray for the female that was stabbed, and we also want to thank the officer for being there. Not just getting the [suspect], getting him in custody but helping to save a life,” said Chief Schubert.
The intersection has been shut down to traffic as police investigate. The Port Authority is detouring 16 buses around the area.
The Port Authority released a statement, saying:
“Port Authority extends its deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased and surviving victim of the senseless attack at our bus stop earlier today.
“Although the investigation by Pittsburgh police remains ongoing, we understand that this was an isolated incident.
“The safety and security of our customers, employees and the public is our top priority, and we will continue to maintain a strong police presence in the areas we serve by working with Pittsburgh police and other local law enforcement agencies throughout our region.”
Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.