TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MAY 13TH, 2021

Authorities are launching an investigation after two people were shot and killed in New Castle.  The shooting happened last night in the one-thousand- block of Dewey Avenue. Police say 59 year old Louis Esposito was taken into custody by the Lawrence County Critical Incident Response Team. He’s being charged with two counts of Criminal Homicide, and one count of Attempted Homicide, as he shot at another man. One of the victims is Esposito’s mother, Margaret Esposito. The other victim was identified as 78 year old Charles Micco.

A federal jury in Pittsburgh Wednesday returned a not guilty verdict against a former New Castle City police officer accused of having used excessive force.  Prosecutors had argued that former New Castle Officer Ronald Williams had deprived a drunken man of his civil rights during an April 2018 arrest.  In a cellphone video recording, Williams can be seen slamming suspect Perry Lawry’s face into a kitchen floor multiple times and telling Lawry that he was going to kill him.  Williams’ attorney told the jury that force isn’t fun to watch, but sometimes it’s necessary in police work.

Governor Tom Wolf and gas station officials are informing Pennsylvanians that there is no gasoline shortage in the state. Wolf sent out a tweet yesterday, saying that they’re monitoring potential impacts from the Colonial Pipeline shutdown, but Pennsylvanians should expect minimal impact in our commonwealth. The pipeline is now up and running again. Officials from Pennsylvania gas stations like say that gasoline supply disruptions in the state will only occur due to panic buying. They encourage residents to proceed as normal and avoid panic buying.

Governor Tom Wolf is defending his decision to lift all COVID-19 restrictions, except mask wearing, on Memorial Day. Some Republican lawmakers, including state Senator Scott Martin, have been asking the governor to ease restrictions sooner, saying that it could benefit businesses as people travel for Memorial Day weekend. The governor argues that the decision for the May 31st date wasn’t simple as vaccination rates were taken into account. Wolf says he’s not trying to play games. He added that he’s trying to do the best he can.

Worshipers who attend services in Diocese of Pittsburgh churches yesterday received word that those bodies will soon return to 100-percent seating capacity for Mass.  Wednesday’s announcement follows word from officials earlier this week that the state will be loosening COVID-related restrictions next month.  Mask usage will continue to be required.  The diocese is encouraging individual churches to offers sections of social distanced seating for parishioners.

Pennsylvania is seeing more positive COVID-19 cases.  The state’s Department of Health reported over 21-hundred new positive cases yesterday.  There are about 17-hundred people hospitalized with the coronavirus, and of those cases, 406 patients are being treated in the intensive care unit. Lawrence County has 7,403 covid-19 cases and 207 deaths. Mercer County has recorded 9,360 cases and 255 fatalities.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is not planning on making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for students or school staff. Officials say the discretions around the vaccinations rest with the Department of Health, and it is not their intention to require a vaccine but to leave that to the local discretion. This comes after the FDA gave emergency authorization for the use of the Pfizer vaccine for kids aged 12 to 15. The CDC also endorsed its use of the vaccine for this age group yesterday.

The owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Art Rooney, is planning on having full-capacity crowds at Heinz Field for this season.  As the team released its 2021 N-F-L schedule yesterday, Rooney said, “We’re planning on having full capacity. The trends are all headed in the right direction and we’re excited about getting our fans back in the stadium.”  He is also encouraging fans to get vaccinated to help get everything back to normal.