“This is my new reality that I have to live within and just going through the process, the grief process,” said Shantel Pizaro, mother of 15-year-old Steve Eason who died at a Haunted Hayride attraction in suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in September 2021.
The Pittsburgh woman never thought the day she sent her son and daughter away to Haunted Hills Hayride on Sept. 11, 2021, would be her last time see one of them alive. Haunted Hills Hayride is a Halloween-themed plot of land filled with makeshift haunted trails, ghosts and other frightening attractions located in North Versailles, a suburb of Pittsburgh.
Her son, Steven Eason, was shot and killed while at the Hayride attraction. He was in high school and was planning to have a typical night out with friends at the popular teen attraction.
“Patrons from all walks of life come into it, pick pumpkins, pick apples, hop on a hayride and turn around and go home,” said Rob Peirce, Pizaro’s attorney working with the family on a wrongful death lawsuit against the owners of Haunted Hills Hayride.
Around 8 in the evening of Sept. 11, Eason and his twin sister and their friends were in line preparing to get on one of the rides when another teenager approached, starting a fight that soon turned deadly.
“When another teenager approached their group, and a fight broke out. Steven was not involved in the fight until things began to escalate trying to break up the fight,” Peirce said of the incident.
The teenager who started the fight reportedly brandished a gun and fired three gunshots, two of those gunshots struck Eason in the chest and stomach killing him.
Peirce filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Sept. 2, 2022, on behalf of Eason’s family against BB Production Company, Inc., the owner of Haunted Hills Hayride, placing blame squarely on the owners for not having enough security on hand.
“There were no security personnel prior to this shooting,” Peirce said.
Atlanta Black Star reached out to BB Production company for comment on the pending lawsuit but did not hear back.
Peirce says Haunted Hills Hayride shut down operations for two weeks following Eason’s death then reopened with added security measures in place which included security personnel, bags and pockets of patrons being searched, and a requirement for teenagers under 16 years old to be accompanied by an adult.
“Had these things been in effect two weeks prior, Steven would not have been shot, this fight would not have occurred, and he would still be here today,” Peirce said.
The lawsuit alleges two counts of negligence and calls for an unspecified dollar amount in compensatory damages. Allegheny County police confirmed to Atlanta Black Star the department is still searching for the shooter which has added to the pain of loss for Eason’s family.
“We’re still looking for justice, if anyone has any information regarding that night or video you can contact me or the Allegheny County Police station,” Pizaro pleaded.
Pizardo says her son was often seen smiling and loved kids, and planned to go to business school once he got into college.
“He’s just a very good soul, who loved everyone,” Pizaro said of her son.