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In 2013, while mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, John Fetterman said he thought he heard a dozen gunshots near his home and called 911, according to news reports at the time.
Fetterman chased and caught Chris Miyares, who is Black, and displayed a shotgun to detain him until police arrived.
Police said Miyares was wearing headphones and exercise clothes. They said he did not have a weapon and released him without filing any charges.
An ad draws on details from a 2013 incident to make the case that Pennsylvania’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate is "reckless and risky."
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman was mayor of a Pittsburgh suburb at the time. Now he’s running against Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz in a Nov. 8 contest that could determine which party takes control of the Senate.
In the ad, paid for by the Oz-supporting super PAC American Leadership Action, a narrator says:
"As mayor of Braddock, John Fetterman chased down an innocent, unarmed Black man."
Fetterman said he thought he heard a dozen gunshots near his home and called 911, according to news reports at the time. Then, he chased the person he believed to be the gunman.
The man was Chris Miyares, then 28 years old, and the date was Jan. 26, 2013. Police said Miyares was wearing headphones and exercise clothes. They found he did not have a weapon and released him without filing any charges.
The ad plays a clip from a TV news report at the time, showing Miyares telling a reporter that Fetterman "followed me into North Braddock and pulled a shotgun and aimed it at my chest."
In another clip borrowed from the same news report, Miyares says: "I mean, there’s a mayor with a shotgun and six other cops surrounding me, what else could I do but this?" He raises both of his arms in the air.
And there’s footage of Fetterman being interviewed. He says: "I believe I did the right thing, but I may have broken the law during the course of it." Words on the screen say: "Fetterman was unapologetic."
The ad does not show Fetterman’s next words from the interview, which were: "I’m certainly not above the law."
Most of the details in the claim are true, though some points need clarification.
American Leadership Action told PolitiFact its ad is supported by three news stories, cited in the ad. The video clips in the ad come from a report by Pittsburgh television station WTAE that aired five days after the incident. A version of the story posted on the TV station’s website and a longer video of the station’s interview with Fetterman offered more details.
The news reports did not suggest that the incident was racial profiling.
According to WTAE’s reporting, the incident unfolded as follows:
Fetterman said he was outside his home when he heard what sounded like a dozen rounds of assault-rifle gunfire.
"I didn’t know if it was a rampage. I didn’t know if it was a drive-by. I didn’t understand. No one could know what was going on at that point, other than a large number of shots were fired from what sounded like a high-powered rifle. At that point, I made a decision as a parent, and as a mayor, to intervene until the first responders could get there and sort it all out," he said.
Fetterman said he saw "an individual dressed all in black, with his face obscured, running away," so he gave chase in his pickup truck, into neighboring North Braddock. It’s unclear whether Fetterman knew, before detaining him, that Miyares is Black.
"After two warnings and asking him to just stay put," Fetterman said, he removed his 20-gauge shotgun from his truck. "I ordered him twice, ‘Just stay right there,’ and he refused. That’s when I felt like I needed to make sure because I didn’t know what was coming." He said he displayed the gun, but did not point it at Miyares.
Fetterman said he told Miyares they would wait there "and we’re going to get this all sorted out when the police arrive."
Miyares said the sounds Fetterman heard did not come from gunfire, but from bottle rockets set off by three kids in a parking lot.
"He’s trying to make it out that it’s OK, he’s trying to justify what he did," Miyares said in the news report.
A Braddock police report filed on the day of the incident also offered more details.
When officers arrived on the scene, two people told them they heard what they thought were several gunshots. Then officers heard Fetterman call out to them. His truck was parked in the middle of the street and he was holding a shotgun with Miyares standing near him.
Fetterman told officers he displayed his gun to get Miyares to stop. The police report said Fetterman "continued to yell and state that he knows this male was shooting, but did not see Miyares holding a gun nor shooting a gun."
Miyares told police he ran daily in the area and was running toward his home when Fetterman confronted him.
"Miyares was very cooperative, but was upset that Fetterman pulled a shotgun on him," the report said. "Miyares was advised why he was stopped and he understood."
The police report said Miyares did not have a weapon.
Miyares was released with no charges filed.
We reached out to Fetterman’s campaign, but it declined to comment.
An ad from a group supporting Oz claimed that as mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, Fetterman "chased down an innocent, unarmed Black man," wielded a shotgun and "falsely accused the man, triggering a confrontation with police."
In the 2013 incident, Fetterman said that after hearing what he thought were gunshots, he chased a person.
It is unclear whether Fetterman knew at the outset that the man, Miyares, is Black.
Fetterman displayed a shotgun to detain Miyares until police arrived. Police said Fetterman told officers "he knows this male was shooting."
Police said Miyares was unarmed, released at the scene and not charged with a crime.
The claim is accurate but needs clarification. We rate it Mostly True.
YouTube, American Leadership Action "Chased" post, Sept. 1, 2022
Email, American Leadership Action spokesperson Jahan Wilcox, Sept. 8, 2022
Email, John Fetterman campaign spokesperson Joe Calvello, Sept. 8, 2022
New York Times, "John Fetterman, Senate Candidate, Revisits Gun Incident Involving Black Jogger," published Feb. 9, 2021; updated Feb. 11, 2021
YouTube, John Fetterman "Gun violence" post, April 15, 2022
YouTube, WTAE-TV Pittsburgh "Braddock mayor detains jogger after hearing possible gunshots" post, Jan. 31, 2013
WTAE, "Braddock mayor detains jogger after hearing possible gunshots," Jan. 31, 2013
WTAE, "Braddock mayor explains why he detained jogger with shotgun," Jan. 31, 2013
Pittsburgh City Paper, "Fetterman justifies — but does not apologize for — chasing down and brandishing shotgun at Black jogger while Braddock mayor," Feb. 10, 2021
TribLive, "Braddock mayor says he's justified in pulling shotgun after hearing noise like gunshots," Feb. 1, 2013
NBC News, "Oz backers launch ads attacking Fetterman for pulling gun on Black jogger in 2013," Sept. 6, 2022
Philadelphia Inquirer, "Mehmet Oz allies are airing a new attack on the John Fetterman jogger incident, targeting Philly voters," Sept. 7, 2022
Philadelphia Inquirer, "Everything to know about the 2013 John Fetterman jogger incident," published April 25, updated April 26, 2022
Philadelphia Inquirer, "5 takeaways from Thursday’s Pennsylvania Democratic Senate debate," updated April 22, 2022
Philadelphia Inquirer, "John Fetterman’s height put him at risk for his heart condition, A-fib. Taller women are especially susceptible," Sept. 7, 2022 6-foot-8
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Unconventional, in size and rise," accessed Sept. 8, 2022
OpenSecrets, "American Leadership Action Outside Spending," Sept. 8, 2022
Braddock Police Department, incident report 201301-00022, Jan. 26, 2013
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