DA On Western Psych Gunman: Warning Signs Missed
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Investigators detailed a series of warning signs that Western Psych gunman John Shick had grown dangerous which they say were ignored.
“In January, in February, in March we see an ever increasing sort of pattern of increasingly hostile and aberrant behavior on his part,” Assistant District Attorney Mark Tranquilli said.
District Attorney Stephen Zappala revealed that Shick had been diagnosed schizophrenic and had gone off his meds and that after being banned from Duquesne University last fall, he became confrontational.
Evaluated at Western Psych, he threatened a doctor in January who refused to treat him anymore. The doctor sent the Western Psych mobile evaluation unit to Shick’s apartment, but Shick would not let him in.
Then in February, Shick twice showed up at UPMC Shadyside with a baseball bat threatening hospital employees.
Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper says this should have been turned over to police.
“He showed up at the Shadyside facility with a baseball bat,” Harper said. “Their security should have notified us of that incident.”
Zappala said then Shick could have been involuntarily committed.
“Quite frankly it appears that in February, it should have become a police matter in terms of involuntary commitment and he should have been taken to an emergency room on that basis and whether or not he wants to stay there or not is of no consequence,” Zappala said. “But the Pittsburgh Police were never notified or asked to participate in some type of involuntary commitment process.”
Wednesday, UPMC defended itself for not involving police in a statement from Paul Wood, vice president of public relations.
“Our dedicated professionals work every day to try to help people suffering from mental illness. In this case we believed, and still believe, that we were fulfilling that responsibility. Many of the victims were the very people committed to helping those with mental illness.
“The circumstances here, while of medical concern, did not in the opinion of our professionals warrant a criminal complaint or a civil commitment. When an individual’s behavior does rise to that level, we follow through with the proper authorities. We provided all records to the investigative authorities and would welcome an opportunity to discuss the matter with the District Attorney.”