Police: Driver Who Killed Himself in Cranberry Was Suspect in New Castle Shooting
At the time of his death, 19-year-old Lagene Lawson was wanted on two arrest warrants, one of which was for aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person.
Driving a stolen car, Lagene Lawson was fleeing from a domestic dispute in Butler in the early morning hours of Aug. 4 when he sped through Adams Township and into Cranberry.
There, using a handgun reported stolen, he ended his life in the Cranberry Commons shopping center.
Lawson, 19, of New Castle fired a single bullet into his head, fatally wounding himself, according to a statement from Cranberry police.
“It was immediately apparent the driver was deceased and was found to have no signs of life,” Cranberry Sgt. Chuck Mascellino said in a statement.
At the time of his death, Lawson was wanted on two arrest warrants, one of which was for aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person, Mascellino said.
Those charges stemmed from a July 12 incident in New Castle in which Lawson fired a gun at a passing vehicle. A 76-year-old man who was entering a nearby church at the time received minor injuries when a stray bullet, or debris from the passing car, grazed the back of his head, the New Castle News reports.
Shortly before he killed himself, Lawson had assaulted two women inside an apartment in Butler, Mascellino said. One of the women, a 17-year-old, had met Lawson several weeks ago. Mascellino was not sure if she could be called Lawson's girlfriend.
When a third women attempted to intervene, Lawson drew a handgun and fired one bullet into the ceiling before stealing a car belonging to the woman who lived in the apartment and fleeing the area.
The resident later reported the Oldsmobile Aurora stolen when she discovered the keys to her vehicle were missing and the car gone, police said.
Mascellino said the handgun Lawson was carrying was reported stolen July 4 in New Castle.
As he traveled into Adams Township from Butler on Route 228 around 3:15 a.m., Lawson driving 71 mph in a 45 mph speed zone, Mascellino said. An Adams Township officer who attempted to pull Lawson over near Mars Area High School believed Lawson was impaired because of the erratic way he was driving on the road, police said.
As Cranberry police joined in the pursuit, Lawson turned into the shopping center, and, using the stolen gun, shot himself, investigators said. There was no gunfire exchanged between Lawson and officers during the incident, Mascellino said.
Officers on the scene were able to put out a small fire that erupted under the vehicle after it smashed though the glass entrance of the women’s retail store.
A single .45 caliber casing found in the vehicle Lawson was driving matched a casing recovered from the domestic incident in Butler, police said.
Mascellino said preliminary results of the autopsy showed Lawson died of a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The final report is pending toxicology and lab tests, he said.
Cranberry police continue to investigate the incident.
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