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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A man fired a BB gun near a crowd of people waiting outside the Benedum Center before a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Wednesday.
The Pittsburgh Public Safety Department says police responded to a report of a man with a firearm near the theater around 7:15 p.m.
When responding officers, including an officer who was working a detail at the Benedum Center, arrived at the scene, they found 29-year-old Andre Freeman Jr. pinned to the ground by Kevin Wilkes, the chief security officer for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
Wilkes told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he heard a popping sound and he saw a man with “what appeared to be a gun in his hand” walking down the street, aiming toward the area where theatergoers were standing in line outside.
Officials say Wilkes chased Freeman, tackled him and held him down until police arrived and handcuffed him.
Freeman was arrested and sent to the Allegheny County Jail on charges of causing or risking a catastrophe, disorderly conduct, discharging a firearm or airgun, carrying a facsimile of a firearm and simple assault.
No one was injured.
Pittsburgh Public Safety says they commend Wilkes “for his courage and for quickly ending what could have been a far more serious event.”
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust issued the following statement in response to the incident:
The most critical issue to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is always the safety of our stakeholders; staff, volunteers, visitors, and guests. Our new security policies are meant to preserve that commitment. Every person entering the Byham Theater, August Wilson Center, and now the Benedum Center will be required to pass through a metal detector and have his or her bag checked.
“The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is committed to providing a space for a wide range of opinions and ideas. We will not, however, tolerate violence of any kind – be it physical, threats, or hate speech. We feel now more than ever, it is important to facilitate this confluence where members of the Pittsburgh community feel safe to come together and share artistic experiences,” says Kevin McMahon, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust just installed new metal detectors and launched new security measures at the Benedum Center last Friday.
The national tour of “Fiddler on the Roof” was in Baltimore last week. During a performance there, a man shouted, “Heil Hitler, heil Trump.” The man later apologized, saying he had been drinking that night.