Biography of Chief John A. Kearney

John A. Kearney was sworn in as Chief Deputy of the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office on January 3, 2022.  Appointed by Sheriff Kraus, Chief Kearney is charged with carrying out the Sheriff’s mandates, managing daily operations of the agency across its three divisions and overseeing the Office’s 204 sworn and civilian employees.

A 37-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, Chief Kearney was hired by the late Sheriff Eugene Coon and promoted through the ranks to Sergeant and Lieutenant, the position he held the past 17 years.  He holds the distinction of working as a supervisor under three separate administrations and is recognized for his comprehensive knowledge of agency functions.

Since 2004, Chief Kearney has served as Lieutenant of the Sheriff’s Office’s Investigations daylight and evening criminal and non-support fugitive squads.  He reported directly to the Chief Deputy on a host of investigative and security-related matters and was responsible for the direction and performance of all criminal, non-support and miscellaneous investigations.  His collaboration with federal and local law enforcement agencies across the country for the past 20 years has led to the prompt detainment of countless dangerous fugitives and sexual predators wanted on high-profile homicide, felony, and sexual assault warrants. 

While overseeing Investigations, Chief Kearney was committed to preventing child sex abuse in Allegheny County.  His work with the Pennsylvania State Police on Megan’s Law cases in the apprehension of runaway violators has ensured nearly all offenders living in our region are accounted for and in compliance with statutes. 

In 2006, Chief Kearney was recognized by newly appointed Sheriff, Bill Mullen, as his first selection to receive the esteemed Law Enforcement Agency Director’s Award for conducting tenacious and thorough investigations leading to the arrest of violent, egregious fugitives posing critical risk to public safety.  Throughout the years to follow, Sheriff Mullen awarded him numerous commendations for key contributions to the arrest of warrant suspects.  Over the course of 20 years, Chief Kearney and his squads apprehended more than 20,000 fugitives. He has also received acknowledgements from federal and local law enforcement agencies for his critical assistance in the solution of major crimes cases.

Additional achievements include:

  • Location and arrest of Rahmael Holt, who in November 2017 shot and killed on-duty New Kensington Police Officer Brian Shaw.  Following the murder, the Westmoreland County District Attorney’s Office and PA Attorney General’s Office initiated criminal and fugitive investigations, of which Lieutenant Kearney and his squads became involved.  Lieutenant Kearney led ACSO detectives on a multiday, round-the-clock pursuit, which enabled them to develop key intelligence steering them to Holt’s whereabouts. 
  • Investigation and apprehension of Marvin Hill, Jr., one of three individuals culpable for the murder of 1-year-old Zykier Young.  While asleep in his bed, Young was shot and killed by a stray bullet that entered his home from an outside shootout.  Hill, the first of three suspects located, was found by Lieutenant Kearney and fugitive squad members within two days of Baby Zykier’s August 2020 murder.
  • The recovery of multiple juveniles who went missing or ran away from home.  At the request of family members seeking his expertise, Chief Kearney has committed personal time and efforts searching for the individuals and has, in some cases, traveled out of state and worked with local authorities to ensure the safe return of disappeared youth from Allegheny County, some of whom were missing for multiple months.
  • Investigation and arrest of Bryant Jones, wanted for the fatal shooting of Randy Edwards in 2008.  Chief Kearney personally traveled to Atlanta, Georgia and worked closely with their authorities to find and apprehend Jones within six hours of Kearney’s arrival in Atlanta.  The extended lengths initiated by Kearney to bring absconders to justice served as a warning to criminals that the Sheriff’s Office was committed to pursuing dangerous fugitives far beyond its borders for crimes committed against Allegheny County citizens.
  • The investigation and arrest of Amir Ferguson and Tyree Gains, wanted in connection with the murder of Arika Hainesworth who, in July 2010, was shot to death in her apartment.  During the incident, the brazen actors held Hainesworth’s eight-year-old son at gunpoint and later opened fire upon officers responding to the home invasion. 
  • The removal of large quantities of drugs, weapons, and assault rifles from the streets of Allegheny County during Sheriff’s Office investigations and arrests. 
  • The implementation of effective and secure jury sequestration plans for high-profile, Allegheny County court cases.  These include the capital murder trial of Richard Poplawski for the slaying of Pittsburgh Police Officers Stephen Mayhle, Paul Sciullo and Eric Kelly and the trial of former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld, indicted for the death of Antwon Rose, Jr.