Harrison man, grandson headed to court on ethnic intimidation charges
A Harrison family briefly fled town, police say, because of ongoing racially-charged harassment from neighbors.
Nathan Pawlowski, 21, and David Loughner, 68, both of Walnut Street in Harrison, face felony charges of ethnic intimidation and related misdemeanor charges. Pawlowski faces 17 counts from three separate altercations, according to court documents.
Charges against both men were held for court Wednesday following preliminary hearings before District Judge Carolyn S. Bengel in Brackenridge.
Police say in court documents the neighbors of Pawlowski and Loughner have been at odds with the men for sometime, but animosity came to a head on June 23, when police were sent to Walnut Street to a report there was a large fight in front of a residence.
Officers arrived to find “at least 20 people outside in the street.”
Pawlowski told officers a neighbor had started verbally harassing him and that the situation escalated when he confronted the neighbor. Pawlowski said the neighbor threw a bicycle at him and that he began to punch the man in response.
The neighbor told police, according to court documents, that Pawlowski had approached his home and began to use a racial slur to describe his family. Police say Pawlowski, after striking the neighbor, slammed him onto the roof of a car.
The neighbor, according to court documents, “left town for a while with his children because he fears for their safety. This is an ongoing problem between these neighbors.”
No one was arrested that day, according to court documents, though Pawlowski eventually was charged on Aug. 10.
Police again responded to Walnut Street on Aug. 9, after the same neighbor reported Pawlowski had pointed a small black handgun equipped with a green laser sight at him.
Harrison Police Sgt. Brian Turack wrote in court documents that, when he arrived at Walnut Street, he saw Loughner rush inside his home.
“This is out of the ordinary because we frequently respond to calls at this location for similar types of disputes and Loughner has always been standing on the porch every time I have been there,” Turack wrote.
When police spoke to the neighbors, according to court documents, they were told both Pawlowski and Loughner were outside heckling them and using racial slurs. The neighbors told police they witnessed Loughner give Pawlowski a black handgun before Pawlowski began to point it at neighbors, training a green laser sight on them.
Pawlowski said that he hadn’t pointed a gun at his neighbors, but had instead shown them a laser pointer, which he said he uses to tease cats. Pawlowski was arrested, but Loughner denied having the gun in his possession and was not arrested.
Police asked Loughner, according to court documents, how neighbors were able to accurately describe the firearm he told police he owns if he hadn’t brandished it or given it to his grandson, to which he allegedly replied that everyone knew what kind of gun he carried.
Hours later, police say in court documents, the neighbors called officers to report Loughner was standing on their porch, banging on the door and holding a gun.
“It is this officer’s belief that David Loughner did have his firearm on him at the time that I arrived on scene the first time as he ran into the residence,” Turack said.
Loughner was arrested and released ahead of court proceedings. Pawlowski was out on bond the following day.
On Aug. 15 police were again summoned to Chestnut Street for a report of a man threatening his neighbors with a gun. Officers arrived, they say in court documents, and spoke with the same neighbor who told them Pawlowski had been riding a bicycle in the street with a firearm hanging out of his pocket when he looked up to the neighbor, called him a racial slur, and threatened to put two bullets in his head.
Pawlowski then, according to police, rode down the street and told another man he was planning to shoot his neighbor. That man told officers Pawlowski showed him a small black firearm with a green laser sight. That man called the neighbor and warned him of Pawlowski’s threats, police say. Police say in court documents that Pawlowski bragged he had already been taken to jail for threatening his neighbors but had quickly been released.
Police responded and placed Pawlowski under arrest for a second time.
Pawlowski is currently lodged in the Allegheny County Jail ahead of three formal arraignments scheduled for Oct. 15 in Pittsburgh. Loughner will also have a formal arraignment in Pittsburgh on Oct. 15 but is free on bond.