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Stray bullet hits New Kensington church

| Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, 11:20 p.m.

A bullet from a large caliber handgun pierced a stained-glass window and grazed the wooden pulpit of a New Kensington church last week, police said Tuesday.

St. Mary of Czestochowa Church, 857 Kenneth Ave., was struck by an apparent stray bullet between Wednesday and Friday morning last week, according to police.

After examining the bullet's trajectory, New Kensington Det. Robert Deringer, said the shots were fired from about two blocks away.

The bullet that hit the church was likely a stray, he said.

It could have been part of the spray of bullets aimed at New Kensington police about four blocks away, in the 1100 block of Constitution Boulevard at 2:45 a.m. last Friday, Deringer said.

“I can only speculate at this point,” he said.

Someone fired multiple shots at police, who were searching for a package allegedly thrown from a vehicle during a traffic stop.

“We don't have a solid location from where they shot from, and we did not find shell casings. There were no witnesses,” Deringer said.

No officers were hit, and there was no visible property damage at the Constitution Boulevard site. Police are looking for the suspect.

The timing and vicinity of the stray bullet in the church makes a connection possible, Deringer said.

The last activity at the church was Tuesday evening, and staff were in the church Wednesday.

The bullet hole and damage was noticed by volunteers changing out missalettes Friday morning, he said.

The bullet hit the church window more than 20 feet above ground.

“We're fairly certain that the church was not a target,” Deringer said.

The church does not have estimates to repair the damage, said Jerry Zufelt, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg.

“This is the first incident of guns causing damage to the building,” he said. “It is obviously disappointing for the community, and we pray for peace in the community.”

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com.

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