Official says suspected gunman may have acted to ‘enact revenge’
By EMMALEE C. TORISK
In the days leading up to Saturday’s shooting in a Seventh Street home, family members noticed that the suspected gunman, Devin Spann, was acting strangely — saying things such as he’d poisoned their food with bleach.
Police said the investigation continues, but that a handwritten, threatening note found in Spann’s bedroom suggests he may have acted to “enact revenge for whatever he was wronged for,” said Sgt. Drew Rauzan, interim police chief.
Spann “clearly defined some aggravation against his family and articulates his motivation for getting back at them,” said Rauzan, referring to the note’s contents, which state that he intended to kill everyone inside the residence.
About 1 p.m. Saturday, police were called to 47 Seventh St., where Spann is accused of opening fire on four family members, then shooting himself in the chest and fleeing the house.
An officer on the way arrested Spann, who was walking on Warhurst Road, after one of the victims provided identifying information, Rauzan said.
Three women — Roland Avis, 62, Mary Lynette Spann, 43, and Carmen Figueroa, 24 — each had a single gunshot wound to the upper torso, causing serious injuries. They were taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center.
Gerald Robinson, 29, had been shot in the left forearm and was treated at ValleyCare Northside Medical Center.
Three girls — age 3, 6 and 8 — were in the home as well but not injured. Police found them in a second-floor bedroom, standing and crying over two of the victims.
A short time later, officers realized that smoke was coming from Devin Spann’s upstairs bedroom. They discovered that a mattress was on fire, determining that he likely had set it with the intention of burning down the house, Rauzan said.
Police, including those from the Struthers department, were able to put out the fire with fire extinguishers and with water until the Campbell Fire Department arrived.
“Not enough accelerant had been used” to start the fire, said Detective Kevin Sferra. “Had he used enough, it would’ve been a whole different story.”
In addition to the handwritten note, police found the handgun, five spent shell casings and various evidence that connect the suspect to the crime, such as cellphones and blood stains both inside and outside of the home.
Spann, who turned 24 on Tuesday, is now under 24-hour guard at St. Elizabeth, where he was sedated after surgery, Rauzan said. He will make his initial appearance in Campbell Municipal Court when released from the hospital.
Rauzan said officers involved with Saturday’s shooting — particularly Ryan Bloomer, Joe Pavlansky and Mitch Zupko — will receive commendation letters, and perhaps also special recognition from the city, for their bravery in a “life-and-death situation.”
“They did their duty when called upon. We all believe when it is time to run into a mass shooting scene that every officer would do it,” Rauzan said.
“These officers did it without hesitation — and they saved lives and arrested an evil suspect.”
But Zupko, who was entering the “11th hour of his shift” at the time of the shooting, said he simply acted on instinct.
“Did I think? No, I just reacted,” he said.
“It’s nothing to me. Anybody else would probably react the same way.”
In January 2011, Devin Spann was pulled over for failing to stop at a sign at Gladstone Street and Lettie Avenue. Asked by police if he had anything illegal in the car, he eventually showed them a small marijuana blunt that had been in his ashtray.
Officers noticed the handle of a revolver sticking out of his waistband when he got out of the car, and later found that it was loaded with four bullets. He also had $300 in cash in his wallet.
In July 2012, Spann was sentenced to three years’ probation.