Gunman Sought After Pitt Shooting; Several Injured

By Salon Staff

Published March 8, 2012 8:54PM (EST)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Gunfire at a psychiatric clinic at the University of Pittsburgh injured several people Thursday afternoon, and police were looking for a gunman.

Authorities did not say how many people were hit in the shooting at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at Pitt. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that five people were shot, among them a Pitt police officer.

Neighboring buildings have been placed on lockdown, police said. It wasn't clear how many gunmen might have been involved; police at the scene told The Associated Press they were searching for a second gunman, and some media reports said a gunman had been shot.

A SWAT team was on the scene. A street was blocked off, and the area thronged with police. Most students are on spring break, though offices and buildings have been open.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said it had received some patients from the shooting but did not say how many or what their conditions were.

Pete Finelli, who lives two blocks from the clinic and once worked there as a student nursing assistant, said security guards are always at the part of the building where it the shooting is believed to have occurred.

Patient rooms are on the upper floors, he said, but anyone on the first floor would have to be someone either being admitted or discharged.

"The only place a person would be on the first floor is the emergency room," he said.

Pitt sent out email and text alerts shortly after 2 p.m. to warn people of the shooting.

"An active shooter has been identified at Western Psychiatric Institute. Several injured. Possible second actor in Western Psych. Lockdown recommended until further notice. If safe to do so, tell others of this message," the alert said.

Lawton Snyder, executive director of Pitt's Eye and Ear Foundation, said he and two other staffers were locked down about a block away, in a building that connects to the clinic. He said it was unnerving.

"Obviously I'm terribly sad for those injured. We're just hoping everybody's OK and things are resolved quickly and that they can apprehend those who are responsible," he said.

The clinic describes itself on its website as a top academic-based psychiatric care center and is in the city's Oakland neighborhood, a couple miles east of downtown.

It is affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and one of several affiliated hospitals adjacent to the campus. Other schools are nearby, including Carnegie Mellon, Carlow and Chatham universities.

Carlow, a smaller, private school with mostly female students was on spring break, but the campus was locked down as a precaution because it is also home to the Campus School of Carlow University, a private school for grades K-8.

There were no immediate reports that any areas outside the psychiatric hospital were at risk, and it was not immediately clear if any other schools or businesses in the area were locked down.

Salon Staff

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