Joseph, a Pitt sophomore, was staring straight into the barrel of a black revolver handgun on McKee Street Friday night.
A Pitt police crime alert detailing Joseph’s experience noted that the gunman holding the revolver used it to hit the student in the back of the head — but it did not list what led up to that moment.
Joseph, Jacob and Demetri, all Pitt sophomores, chose to fight instead of flee from three suspects who held them at gunpoint on their way to a party in Oakland. Because two suspects in the incident are still at large, The Pitt News has removed the full names of the students in this story for their safety.
Despite a spike in violent crimes in the area — four in two weeks — Joseph, Jacob and Demetri headed out to a party on Lawn Street at about 10 p.m.
Before trekking into the depths of Central Oakland, the trio and four other friends stopped at a house on McKee to pick up a few more partygoers.
According to Jacob, the group was walking toward McKee on Louisa Street when they noticed three men approaching from the opposite direction.
“Demetri and I moved out of the way, but the guys didn’t try to move out of the way and just bumped our shoulders,” Jacob said.
Demetri got into a verbal fight with the three men, and the majority of his friends proceeded down the street. The suspects continued to bicker, before one of the men drew out a gun and pointed it at Demetri.
The group of seven fled down the remainder of the street and scattered in all directions on McKee.
“Somehow, Jacob, Demetri and I all ended up running toward Bates,” Joseph said. “We were trying to get to my friend’s house, but we were on the opposite side of the street.”
At this point, some of the friends that the trio were separated from started calling the cops from the other end of street, Joseph said.
“We thought we were in the clear, but then the three guys started to approach me and Jacob and Joseph — except the guy who originally had the gun had handed it off to one of his buddies and was backing away,” Demetri said.
The two suspects approached the three friends, and one of the men pointed the gun straight at Joseph and demanded all the contents on his person. Joseph took out the phone from his pocket and placed it on the ground. The suspect not holding a gun picked up the cellphone and put in his pocket.
“I had absolutely no thoughts,” Jacob said. “I was still processing everything. All I knew was that the kid was pointing a gun at my best friend.”
The gunman then turned the gun to Jacob, presumably to ask for his belongings as well. Joseph acted.
“When the guy pointed the gun at Jacob, it didn’t take me long to decide that I was going to try to get the gun out of that guy’s hand,” Joseph said. “I just jumped.”
Joseph pounced onto gunman and pinned him to the pavement. The two started to wrestle. Jacob and Demetri, who played football together in high school, did not hesitate to follow — Demetri helped tackle the other perpetrator.
“I think I can speak for Jacob, but everything happened in a split second,” Demetri said.
Joseph took a couple blows to the head as one of the suspects hit him with the revolver. Demetri slammed the man’s wrist on the ground until the gun slipped from his grasp and tumbled into the lawn of a random McKee Street apartment.
“Our friend Cece came rushing out of her house — we were initially headed to her place,” Jacob said. “She was like a warrior and just started kicking the guy that had the gun.”
Elizabeth, a student who has an apartment on McKee, saw part of the fight unfold from her outdoor patio. She said other neighbors were watching from porches and patios as well, and the scene developed an audience. She noticed a lot of people were on their phones — probably calling police.
Within a few minutes, the man with the Joseph’s cellphone fled the scene, and Jacob picked up his phone to call the police. Demetri held the other suspect in a chokehold, but let go before the cops arrived.
The trio told the cops their tale and one suspect was apprehended at the Arby’s on Forbes Avenue — located across the street from the Pitt police station. Jacob identified the individual, and Joseph got his phone back.
The group headed back to Jacob’s Central Oakland home to relive the story.
“I know this could have ended a few different way, but I’m glad it went in our favor,” Demetri said.
According to Joseph, he did not go the hospital the day of the fight, but did make a stop at Student Health Services to comfort his worried family back home. Jacob said he had a dream involving a gun that night, but hasn’t fully processed the events.
“We already considered ourselves a family, and there’s not much we can’t get through now after being held at gunpoint,” Jacob said.