PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – When John Shick entered Western Psychiatric Institute earlier this month, he commenced firing within 30 seconds — first hitting a security guard and receptionist at the onset of his rampage.
This week, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said stronger measures could have been taken to protect those workers and others.
“An area that would have protected that receptionist from a gunman coming in – I don’t know how expensive it would be, but bullet-proof glass would have given her a chance,” he said. “She survived but it would have given her a chance not to get hit.”
Zappala says the county needs to conduct a comprehensive review of security at all area hospitals.
“The appropriate forum to work with these hospitals to better protect the people who work there or interact with staff there is the health department,” Zappala said.
After meeting with Zappala, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says he’ll direct county agencies to conduct the review, but he noted that security in the reception areas of all public buildings is a tough problem — protecting workers at the same time accommodating a constant flow of people.
“That’s a hard line that we all wrestle with in these days with public buildings, public access – whether they be health care facilities, office buildings, government buildings, etc,” Fitzgerald said.
Securing public buildings is a daunting task and not an especially welcomed one, but given the tragedy earlier this month, it has suddenly become a priority.