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MASONTOWN, Pa. (KDKA) — Almost everyone admits security at neighborhood district magistrate courtrooms must be improved.
“There are not enough protections in any place,” said Fayette County district attorney Richard Bower on Wednesday. “The one problem though is you’re never going to stop everything. But the problem also is that a person can walk into any of these courtrooms.”
Attorney Eric Randolph was in the middle of the Masontown shoot-out.
“The shooter, he walked in, and he turned, he brought the gun up, did a 90 degree scan of the room, and he brought the gun down on me,” Randolph said.
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Randolph says, “sadly,” security depends on which courtroom you are in.
“There are a number that I go into, especially in Allegheny County, where there will be a metal detector and/or an armed constable who will have a wand and will pat everyone down who comes in,” Randolph told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Thursday. “And there are others where you just walk in — anybody off the street can walk in.”
“I’ve had a guy come at me with a club, tried to get to me, and hit me on the bench,” retired District Judge Robert Dzvonick said.
Dzvonick served the Shaler area for 24 years, and says district judges are often on their own.
“If it’s a criminal charge or even a ticket, the officers are there,” Dzvonick said. “But if it would be a civil case or a landlord tenant case, something like that, truancy, we are pretty much by ourselves there.”
The municipal courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh has all the same kind of judges, district judges, that operate around this region.
The difference, of course, is that in that building there are metal detectors and police officers all the time.
To protect themselves, some judges arm themselves under their black robes.
Delano: “I have heard that some of our district judges carry.”
Dzvonick: “You check around Common Pleas Court, Superior Court. I’ll bet you’ll find quite a few do, too.”