Community centre shooting in Pennsylvania, one dead

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INDIANA, Pa. –


One person was killed and eight were wounded in a shooting during a private party at a Pennsylvania community center early Sunday, authorities said.


State police in Indiana County said troopers, local officers and emergency services responded at 12:35 a.m. Sunday to the shooting at the Chevy Chase Community Center in White Township, about 50 miles (80 kilometres) northeast of Pittsburgh.


Nine people between the ages of 18 and 23 were shot, including a 22-year-old Pittsburgh man who died at the scene, police said.


An 18-year-old man from Chicago was critically injured, and an 18-year-old man from Florida was also among the victims. The others who were shot were all from Pennsylvania: three men ages 19, 20 and 22; two 19-year-old women; and a 23-year-old woman.


The wounded were taken to Indiana Regional Medical Center in Indiana, Pennsylvania; UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Marcy in Pittsburgh; and Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown. Some had already been treated and released, police said in an update later Sunday morning.


No suspects were in custody, and police asked anyone with information to contact troopers in Indiana County. Authorities haven’t said if they know what led to the shooting or whether they know who was behind it, as well as whether more than one person was involved and if the suspect or suspects were at the gathering.


The shooting scene is about 2 miles (3 kilometres) from the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, which was having its homecoming weekend. The school’s vice president for student affairs, Thomas Segar, said two of the injured were students, and officials were working with their families to provide support. Campus activities were going on as scheduled with enhanced police presence, a university official said.


“We understand that incidents like last night’s violence are frightening and may cause continued feelings of fear and worry,” Segar said, before providing information about mental health support and counselling.


Neighbor Robert Miller said he and his wife heard loud music coming from the building as they were about to go to bed.


“Then all of a sudden, I heard about 20 gunshots,” he told the Tribune-Review. “There was people lying on the edge of the sidewalk out there. It’s terrifying.”


His wife, Ellen Ober, said, “There were people everywhere crying and screaming.”


Trooper Cliff Greenfield said investigators were trying to gather as much information as possible from witnesses.


“Clearly we have not been able to interview everyone who was there,” he told the newspaper. “People were fleeing the scene — it was a chaotic scene.”


The Chevy Chase Community Center was built in 1971 by a group established in 1969 to fight poverty and help those in need, according to its website. The center says its mission is to “cultivate, nurture, and sustain a peaceful and inclusive culture that brings community together with positivity, diversity, inclusion, education, nutrition, and love.”


Executive director Brandi Ports said on the center’s Facebook page that officials are “praying for everyone involved” and that the center would be closed until further notice.


“Please be in prayer for those involved, for our community, and for our staff and volunteers,” she said..


Nearby resident Lillian Clemons told the Tribune-Review that she is a former director of the center and that her brother is among the many people who get meals there. She said she believes the center shouldn’t be rented out on what she called “crazy weekends” such as homecoming.


“I’m about to cry. It’s hurtful because everybody struggles to keep this,” she said. “This was a service for the community. That’s what we need it for, for the people.”

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