City police investigating shooting

Police and other emergency vehicles are lined up at Neshannock Village, responding to a shooting that occurred Thursday afternoon. 

A 50-year-old North Hill man won’t face homicide or other charges for fatally shooting Darius Ramsey, 22, of Young Street, during a shoot out Thursday afternoon.

Authorities ruled Marcus N. Respress, of 401 Neshannock Ave., shot in self-defense and was justified in shooting Ramsey, after Ramsey initiated gunfire, just before 1 p.m. Thursday, in a parking lot outside of Respress’ apartment in Neshannock Village.

Police, however, have charged Respress with firearms and drug-related charges, after confiscating guns, 81.1 grams of suspected heroin, and a bag of suspected marijuana from his apartment after the shooting. None of the firearms had been reported stolen, police said.

Following his release from a hospital for evaluation, Respress was arrested on charges of prohibited possession of a firearm and possession with intent to deliver controlled substances. District Judge Melissa A. Amodie arraigned him Friday morning and committed him to the Lawrence County jail on $100,000 bond.

Ramsey died at UPMC Jameson Hospital, after a bullet struck him in the chest as he sped from the scene in a black Ford Escape. His SUV barreled off the road and knocked down a light pole, New Castle Police Chief Bobby Salem reported.

New Castle officers found Ramsey's car against the concrete base of the light pole and learned he had been taken to the hospital in another vehicle.

Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa also determined Ramsey’s death resulted from an act of self-defense. 

Authorities made the ruling, after closely reviewing surveillance video, provided by the Lawrence County Housing Authority, showing Respress walking on the sidewalk. 

When the Ford Escape approached at high speed, Respress took a gun out of the right pocket of his shorts and kept it pointed at the ground, police reported. The driver of the Escape, later identified as Ramsey, pointed a black gun out of the window and fired at Respress, the complaint states. 

Respress then pointed his gun at the Escape and returned fire, shooting four times into the vehicle.

Respress escaped injury in the shooting, but bullets from Ramsey's gun struck a nearby vehicle, Salem said.

When police went to Respress' apartment to talk to him, he exhibited signs of a cardiac event and was taken to the hospital for evaluation, court papers state.

Respress told police he was returning a gun when he saw his nephew in a vehicle, arguing with the driver of the Ford Escape in the parking lot. Respress said the Escape driver (Ramsey) asked him what he was looking at, then pulled out a gun and shot at him.

Respress said he considered running but instead returned fire, then went into an apartment to wait for police.

Police obtained a search warrant for Respress' apartment and served it around 7 p.m., when they found the suspected drugs and firearms.

The report notes Respress had been convicted on a felony drug charge in Lexington, Oklahoma, in 2005, and is not allowed to possess a gun in Pennsylvania.

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Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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