PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s been one year since terror struck at Pittsburgh’s Western Psychiatric Institute when a gunman opened fire.
Out of that tragedy, many questions arose. Why did this happen? And could it be prevented from happening again?
In the wake of the tragedy, those questions sought answers. The Allegheny County District Attorney reviewed the institute’s security and found it lacking.
“They’re clearly vulnerable at Western Psych,” said District Attorney Stephen Zappala. “Something has to happen there.”
UPMC responded with changes, including armed officers on duty in the lobby, a magnetometer in the lobby, bullet-resistant glass at the reception desk and a redesign of the lobby with a target date of September.
But what of the gunman John Shick, who was a diagnosed schizophrenic who had been involuntarily committed in Oregon. Despite that, he was able to legally purchase the guns in Albuquerque, N.M.
“The seller believes he sold both firearms, plus – I believe – holsters, to a man matching John Shick’s description,” Pittsburgh Police Commander Thomas Stangrecki said in March 2012.
In the wake of Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., Congress is now debating whether to have a national database and comprehensive background checks preventing mentally ill people from purchasing firearms.
There is also a heightened awareness of people such as Shick, who have gone off their meds and become increasing volatile. In Shick’s case those signs were missed.
“He’s institutionalize. He’s being medicated properly. Is it possible that doesn’t happen? Yes, that possibility exists,” said Zappala.
Rampage shooting will continue to happen in the U.S. despite the efforts to prevent, but the hope is that with tighter security and better background checks, at least some of them will be prevented.
More Reports on the Western Psych Shooting