Anti-government squatter killed in Pittsburgh standoff

A man known as William Hardison, who had been living illegally in a house in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood since March, was killed in a shootout with law enforcement officers on Wednesday. Hardison, who was wearing body armor, had barricaded himself in the house and exchanged hundreds of rounds of gunfire with the officers during a standoff that lasted more than six hours.

Hardison had a record of legal issues, including several motor vehicle violations, forgery, and unlicensed carrying of a handgun. He had also been involved in a serious car accident and had been charged with assault and disorderly conduct. Authorities said that Hardison identified himself as a sovereign citizen, a term used by individuals who believe they are not subject to any government laws.

In a video from 2019, Hardison can be seen arguing with police during a traffic stop, insisting that they had no authority over him. He referred to the officers as “fake and fictitious,” despite the presence of multiple squad cars behind him.

On the day of the incident, Hardison reportedly shot down police drones and fired at officers from inside the house. Despite attempts to negotiate a peaceful surrender, the situation escalated, and Hardison was killed. Pittsburgh Police Chief Larry Scirotto expressed his relief that no officers were injured during the standoff.

The house Hardison had been occupying belonged to his late brother, Joseph Hardison. A real estate investor had bought the property for $25,000, but Hardison refused to leave, leading to eviction proceedings in May. When deputies arrived to serve the eviction order, Hardison immediately opened fire. One deputy was injured while taking cover but no law enforcement officers were hit by gunfire.

Allegheny County Sheriff Kevin Kraus admitted that despite Hardison’s history of law-breaking, they had not anticipated him to be “this dangerous.”