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Volunteers earn praise for aid in deadly Latrobe standoff

| Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 8:52 p.m.

John Dickson was helping to get things started at the weekly bingo game benefiting the Latrobe Volunteer Fire Company Station No. 6 on July 18 when he had to quickly shift into his duties as captain of the department's fire police.

“You never plan for something like this. It just happens all at once,” he said about the 17-hour standoff on Lloyd Avenue in Latrobe that started with an armed robbery at Precision Care Pharmacy on Dailey Avenue and ended when Scott M. Murphy, 46, engaged in a gunbattle with police at his home that left him dead and a state trooper wounded, according to police.

After the robbery, Murphy resisted arrest and ran to the upstairs of his house, where he remained during the ordeal, even after police shut off power to the neighborhood that Thursday night and lobbed tear gas canisters into the house.

Dickson was among the many volunteers, including emergency responders, who stayed awake throughout the night and battled 90-degree temperatures to help control the situation and maintain public safety.

Latrobe fire Chief John Brasile said each volunteer is like a piece of a puzzle that comes together in emergency situations like the one on Lloyd Avenue.

“The people involved, they're dedicated. They're dedicated to their jobs and the departments they volunteer for,” he said.

Dickson, 76, who has been involved with the department for 51 years, had to warn motorists and pedestrians that the road was blocked during the standoff.

The entire street was dark because police had cut electricity, and it wasn't safe for people to be outside, he said. Some neighbors had to be evacuated from their homes or endured little sleep during the outage that cut off electricity and much-needed air conditioning.

Dickson stood near Jioio's Restaurant for the better part of 17 hours, leaving only to get two hours of sleep.

“It was a long night, but you get over it,” he said.

The kindness of neighbors helped, Dickson said, including the food and water toted from the Italian restaurant — until its power was shut off about 11 p.m. Thursday — as well as someone from Aldelphoi Village who brought granola bars.

Members of the department's Support Services provided breakfast sandwiches to Dickson and fellow fire police officers about 7 a.m. Friday.

Darla Anderson was among about five women helping on the other side of the barricaded street with the canteen.

She said the team, including Cindy Dalton, Dana Lehman, Barbie Hinger and Bobbie Crosby, passed out 500 bottles of water and 400 bottles of Gatorade between Thursday night and Friday when the hot temperatures were made worse by high humidity.

Local restaurants like Subway, Dunkin' Donuts, Dainty Pastry Shoppe and McDonald's donated food for the volunteers.

Anderson stayed at the Support Services station from 8:45 p.m. Thursday until 3 p.m. Friday.

“I just hope it doesn't happen again,” she said.

City Manager Alex Graziani recognized the work of the volunteers and the cooperation of the neighbors.

“It makes me want to work harder because I want to support these people and all they do,” he said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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