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Crime & Courts

Homeless man used teenage girl as shield in Target stabbing attack, police say


In this undated photo provided by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Leon Raymond Walls is shown. (AP/Pittsburgh Bureau of Police)

A 16-year-old Tennessee girl on spring break was stabbed Monday inside a downtown Target store in Pittsburgh while she was being used as a shield by a homeless man who was fleeing other people, police spokeswoman Diane Richard said.

The Silverdale Baptist Academy of Chattanooga, Tenn., posted statements Monday evening that said Allison Meadows is a student there and that doctors expected her to make a full recovery from a collapsed lung and other wounds. The school was on spring break this week; the girl was visiting Pittsburgh with her family.

Police said Leon Raymond Walls, 41, ran into the store wielding a knife about 5:30 p.m. Monday after a fight nearby. Walls at first headed toward the restrooms in the back of the store in the East Liberty neighborhood and at least two men entered the store searching for him, police said. Witnesses said one of the men had a baseball bat.

Richard said Walls grabbed Meadows as she stood in the checkout lanes with family members and then used her as a shield; he stabbed her and also stabbed two men who were chasing him, authorities said.

Police said one of the men will need surgery to repair an injury to his face; the other man was treated for a hand injury and released. A police officer was taken to a hospital to be treated for pepper spray exposure. A bystander who helped subdue Walls complained of chest pains and also was taken to a hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.

Walls was in custody Tuesday. He was unable to post $250,000 bond, court records show, and no home address or attorney was listed for him.

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