Community shocked after beloved Pa. teacher fatally shot by police outside home
Police in Pennsylvania fatally shot a man outside his home Tuesday after they say he pointed a gun at them.
The 49-year-old was a high school teacher, and those who knew him said they can’t explain what led him to act so erratically.
"There are certain teachers that are just different, and he was one of them," said Nick Ionadi, who taught at Penn Hills High School with Donald Babbit, the math teacher who was shot and killed by police outside his home in Shaler.
This school year will be different for Penn Hills’ students and staff without Babbit.
"If you talk to people in Penn Hills, I think the word you're going to get is ‘shocked,’ because it sounds like it was completely out of character for him," Ionadi said.
Police said they responded to the home Tuesday afternoon after receiving a report of a man behaving erratically.
When officers arrived, they were told Babbit had access to guns inside the home. An Allegheny County Police spokesman said officers set up a perimeter and tried to contact Babbit using a loudspeaker.
Police said Babbit then walked toward officers while waving a handgun in the air.
Officers told him to put the gun down, but Babbit instead pointed it at an officer, police said.
Three officers shot Babbit multiple times. Neighbors said they heard as many as a dozen gunshots during the incident.
Babbit was taken to a hospital and a short time later was pronounced dead.
Sources told WPXI that Babbit had been walking around naked in his neighborhood. One neighbor told the
that Babbit had walked naked to her yard and placed a pool filter on his head shortly before the shooting.
"Whatever happened during those few hours, that's not who he was. It’s just not. It’s bizarre. It's hard to process," Ionadi said.
Ionadi is choosing to focus on the memories he has with Babbit, who was his 11th-grade math teacher before becoming his teaching colleague and mentor.
"He was always in a good mood,” he said. “I don't ever remember him, even in the years teaching with him, I never remember him even losing his cool or raising his voice. He always had a smile on his face, he was always joking and interacting with the kids. He was like a model teacher."
Ionadi said he looked up to Babbit during his time working for the Penn Hills School District.
“He was one that I used to always go down and see, especially the first year, about just how to handle different things and certain kids, and he was always willing to help,” he said.
Ionadi said he’ll always admire his mentor’s teaching style.
"If I can impact my kids a hundredth of the way he did, then I would consider it a success,” Ionadi said. “He was something else."