Hearing continued in Cross Creek shooting

March 25, 2014
Tracy Chechuck is led to District Justice Ethan Ward’s office in Buffalo Township for arraignment on attempted homicide charges Tuesday afternoon. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

A preliminary hearing for a Cross Creek Township woman accused of shooting a housemate earlier this month was continued because the man has not yet been released from a Pittsburgh hospital.

District Judge Ethan Ward also denied a request by defense counsel to reduce the bond for Tracy Chechuck, 26, of 20 Hill St., Avella. Chechuck was arrested by state police on charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment after she allegedly shot Louis E. Ruscello in the head during a March 14 confrontation at their home.

Chechuck told Trooper Douglas Rush, who filed the charges, that she along with her fiancé, Lowe M. Hawkins Jr., and Ruscello were living at the Cross Creek home since Dec. 23 after living together at another residence since June.

After the three of them returned from a bar in Avella, Hawkins and Ruscello reportedly got into an argument that turned physical when Ruscello allegedly grabbed Hawkins by the shirt. Chechuck went to the bedroom and came out with a .45-caliber handgun. Chechuck told Rush she first sat in the living room before going into the kitchen, where the altercation was taking place. After seeing Ruscello reportedly pushing Hawkins backward over a stove, she tried to get between the two men but Ruscello pushed her away.

Chechuck told Rush she then pulled the slide back to chamber a round and put the gun to the side of Ruscello’s head and the gun “went off.”

Ruscello was flown to UPMC-Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh for treatment. Rush said he is expected to be released Friday.

Public Defender Glenn Alterio, who is representing Chechuck, asked Ward to consider reducing his client’s $50,000 percentage bond to a $50,000 unsecured bond so she would be able to go home. Ward denied the request.

The hearing has been rescheduled for April 1 before Ward.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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