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Police: Pitt psych clinic gunman had 2 guns, 1 stolen, checked offices maybe for more victims
PITTSBURGH (AP) ' A gunman who killed a worker and shot several other people at a University of Pittsburgh psychiatric clinic lived nearby and used two guns, one of them stolen, as he marched around the clinic checking offices possibly in an attempt to find more victims, police said Friday.
John Shick began shooting almost immediately upon entering the clinic lobby Thursday afternoon and later was seen checking office doors in an apparent attempt to open them during his 15-minute rampage, which ended when campus police shot him dead, Major crimes Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said.
Shick had gone up a stairwell to a second-floor parking area, where he apparently tried to exit but couldn't because he didn't have an electronic card needed to open a secure door. A window on the door was shot but didn't shatter, suggesting Shick tried to shoot his way through the door.
Police believe Pitt officers encountered Shick as he came back down the stairs and into the lobby, perhaps planning to escape through the front door he entered.
No witnesses have reported that Shick said or did anything to explain his motives, police said.
"At this point, three's no indication he had any communication with anyone," Stangrecki said.
Stangrecki had just finished telling reporters at a Friday news conference that police still didn't know the gunman's identity when he received confirmation that his name was Shick.
Shick lived in the city's Shadyside neighborhood, blocks from the site of Thursday's shooting, the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. Police hadn't determined if Shick had a history of criminal or mental health problems, but an online database of state criminal court records revealed no arrests or convictions.
Stangrecki declined to say specifically how police identified Shick, who was carrying no identification, and police had moments before released an autopsy photo in the hopes the public could assist in that regard. Stangrecki said only that Shick's name was confirmed through a database from a name written either on something the gunman possessed or was wearing.
Online records suggest that Shick lived near the Carleton College campus in Northfield, Minn., and the college's website shows that a John Shick was a chemistry major and graduated in 2004.
Shick was armed with two semiautomatic handguns, both of which police had traced to an unspecified area of Texas and one of which had been confirmed stolen, Stangrecki said.
Police don't have a motive for Thursday's shooting but said that's where the investigation will focus now that they know the gunman's identity.
"We're looking at his background," Stangrecki said. "Who was he targeting? Why did he target that facility?"
Shick shot seven people, including 25-year-old clinic geriatric therapist Michael Schaab, of Edgewood, who was pronounced dead at the scene about 80 minutes after the shooting began, the medical examiner's office said. An eighth person was hurt, but that injury was not gunshot-related.
The surviving victims are all expected to recover, though two remained in serious condition, including 64-year-old Kathryn Leight, the front lobby receptionist, whose family said she was shot four times.
The university-affiliated clinic is in the city's Oakland neighborhood, which includes several affiliated hospitals and two other universities, Carnegie Mellon and Carlow. That's why Pitt police Chief Tim Delaney said his officers had trained for a Virginia Tech-style shooting and knew at once they had to stop the shooter at any cost.
"We have six hospitals and three universities in Oakland alone," Delaney said. "This is what we prepare for. We hope it doesn't happen. It happened."
Six university police officers responded to the clinic within two minutes of the first 911 call at 1:43 p.m., Delaney said. They were trained to split into two groups of three to outflank the gunman and draw his attention. The first trio encountered gunfire out the front door of the clinic, where police say Shick entered moments before.
The first three officers returned fire and killed Shick, though police said ballistics tests are still needed to determine which officer fired the fatal shot or shots. Two officers suffered minor injuries.
Police aren't sure how many shots were fired, but Delaney said there were so many that smoke hung in the lobby afterward.
"There was smoke," he said. "You could see smoke. It was a very tight area."
Police are sure that Shick killed Schaab because he was already down from gunfire by the time police arrived, Stangrecki said.
Police also are reasonably sure about how the shootings occurred, but they said it was too early to speculate on a motive despite media reports that Shick had a long history of mental health issues. Such records are confidential in Pennsylvania.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center officials did not immediately return messages but have indicated such information would likely not be released.
Mary Schaab, the dead victim's mother, told The Associated Press on Friday that authorities have told her "absolutely nothing" beyond notifying her of her son's death. A state trooper from a barracks nearest to the family's Greensburg home took the news to the family late Thursday night though Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said at Friday's news conference that he had since visited the family.
Schaab had worked at the clinic since graduating with a psychology degree from Pitt and was going back to school to get his master's degree in occupational therapy. He had also recently gotten engaged.
"We were just planning his wedding," his mother said, sobbing. "March 2013."
Michael Schaab had just one sibling, a 26-year-old sister Nancy, who was fatally shot during a domestic dispute in October 2010. Her live-in boyfriend is serving 6 to 15 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.
The clinic was open Friday, and police and extra security could be seen checking employees' identification as they entered the front lobby, where the shootings occurred.
Meanwhile, the other shooting victims were recovering.
Officials at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said they had treated five adult patients for gunshot wounds, including two who had undergone surgery. Leight, the receptionist, and a 49-year-old man were listed in serious condition. Two others were still hospitalized, and one had been discharged.
The psychiatric clinic has 292 beds but reported more than 372,000 outpatient visits and just over 11,000 emergency room visits in 2010, along with $79 million in research funding.