Gunman shoots up US medical clinic

HORRIFIC ORDEAL::Two people, including the gunman, died in the shooting. Seven other people were also shot by the gunman, of whom two remain in intensive care


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 - Page 7

A gunman who opened fire after entering the lobby of a psychiatric hospital at the University of Pittsburgh on Thursday was armed with two semi-automatic handguns during a shooting that left two people, including the gunman, dead and several wounded, the mayor said.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said the man exchanged gunfire with police and was shot dead on Thursday, but not before one other person was killed and seven others were hurt, apparently by his gunfire. One injured person was not hurt by gunfire.

The mayor stopped short of confirming the gunman was fatally shot by a University of Pittsburgh police officer. However, he did say that “police acted admirably and did engage in gunfire.”

One of the injured was a police officer who Ravenstahl said was grazed by a bullet. Officials are not saying if the officer shot the gunman.

Gregory Brant said he was in a waiting room on the first floor of the clinic building when pandemonium broke out.

“We heard a bunch of yelling, some shooting, people yelling, ‘Hide! Hide!’” he said. “Everyone’s yelling, ‘Stay down!’”

Brant, 53, and six other people, including a young girl and her parents, barricaded themselves inside the waiting room, but he said they did not feel safe because there were doors with windows along adjacent walls.

The group crouched in a corner, hoping the gunman wouldn’t see them as he went past, Brant said. The men in the group decided on the spot that if the gunman entered the room, they would rush him.

“We were kind of sitting ducks,” Brant said. “Luckily, he didn’t see us in there and we didn’t make eye contact with him.”

Neighboring buildings were placed on lockdown for hours.

An official said media reports about a possible second gunman and a hostage situation at the clinic or at UPMC Presbyterian hospital were unfounded.

A SWAT team was on the scene shortly after the shooting. A street was blocked off and the area thronged with police. Most students were on spring break, though offices and buildings had been open.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said it had received some patients from the shooting. It said two patients were in intensive care, two has been released and three were being admitted. All were expected to survive.

The clinic, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, is affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and one of several affiliated hospitals adjacent to the university campus.

Pete Finelli, who lives two blocks from the clinic and once worked there as a student nursing assistant, said security guards are always at the part of the building where it the shooting is believed to have occurred, on the ground floor.

Patient rooms are on the upper floors, he said, but anyone on the first floor would have to be someone being either admitted or discharged, he added.

“The only place a person would be on the first floor is the emergency room,” he said.

Pitt sent out e-mail and text alerts shortly after 2pm to warn people of the shooting.

“An active shooter has been identified at Western Psychiatric Institute. Several injured,” the alert said. “Possible second actor in Western Psych. Lockdown recommended until further notice. If safe to do so, tell others of this message.”