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Police say Oakland man involved in Western Psych shooting used stolen gun

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By Tom Fontaine and Jill King Greenwood
Friday, March 9, 2012

Pittsburgh police identified John Shick, 30, of Oakland, as the gunman in Thursday's shooting at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic that left him and a hospital worker dead and seven other people injured.

"At this point, we do not have anything on his background," police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said during a news conference this afternoon at police headquarters. There is nothing in Allegheny County civil or criminal court records on him.

Other records show Shick has had addresses in at least five states.

Officials said Shick fatally shot a therapist, later identified as Michael Schaab, 25, of Regent Square, and injured several others, tried to escape and was shot dead by University of Pittsburgh police.

"Indications are that the suspect went into a stairwell which leads to a parking garage, and it appears the suspect may have tried to exit one of those doors but did not have a passcard to get out," said Stangrecki.

University of Pittsburgh police Chief Tim Delaney said it appears that Shick "fired at a door to escape," but couldn't get out.

One of the guns Shick used was previously reported stolen in Texas, Strangrecki said. Police are still checking the status of the second weapon.

Police said Shick was wearing a long, tan trench coat when he walked into the unsecured lobby of Western Psych about 1:40 p.m. with two semiautomatic pistols and began shooting. After failing to escape from the second-floor exit, Shick returned to the first floor and became involved in a gun battle with three University of Pittsburgh police officers.

It's unknown how many shots were fired.

Police believe Shick shot Schaab before trying to escape, because responding police officers found the mortally wounded man on the ground before encountering Shick. Shick appeared to be "on his way back down and out the front" when he began exchanging gunfire with police.

Six Pitt officers who were on patrol nearby arrived at Western Psych within two minutes of the first report of shots fired, and immediately broke into two groups of three, per the "active shooter training" they have practiced regularly since the Virginia Tech shootings, Delaney said. The formation involves one officer in the center with an officer on each side as a "wing," Delaney said.

They found Shick in the lobby.

"As soon as the Pittsburgh officers went in, his attention went to the officers," Delaney said.

Three of the Pitt officers "engaged in gunfire" with him, Delaney said.

"This is what we prepare for and hope it never happens. It happened. I don't want to think about what could have happened with all those people in there."

One officer was injured when a bullet ricocheted off his bullet-resistant vest, Delaney said, and another officer sustained an ankle injury when he slipped in the lobby.

Delaney declined to identify any of the Pitt officers involved in the incident.

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