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Hempfield man accused of firing 17 shots at troopers during standoff

| Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 9:26 a.m.
Daniel Lee Ryan is led out of district court in Jeannette on October 12, 2012. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
The home of Daniel Lee Ryan, 44, at 122 Antler Lane in Hempfield Township. (Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review)
Daniel Lee Ryan
Daniel Lee Ryan is led out of district court in Jeannette on October 12, 2012. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Steve Limani holds a during a press conference at the Greensburg barracks on October 12, 2012. Daniel Lee Ryan, 44, at 122 Antler Lane in Hempfield Twp. is accused of firing 17 shots at state troopers who surrounded his house after a domestic dispute Thursday. (Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review)

A Hempfield man allegedly fired at least 17 shots through the walls, windows and doors of his home over 2 12 hours at more than a dozen state troopers after a domestic dispute late Thursday.

“They could hear the whizzing of bullets going by them,” Trooper Steve Limani said Friday afternoon. “We were fortunate last night that none of our troopers were shot.”

It was good decision-making on the part of two troopers who responded to the call that kept everyone alive and uninjured, Limani said.

Daniel Lee Ryan, 44, wore a hospital gown over shorts and a button-down shirt to his arraignment Friday morning before District Judge Joseph DeMarchis. He was charged with 17 counts each of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment and a single count of terroristic threats.

Ryan called the incident “a misunderstanding” and told reporters he was depressed.

At about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, police went to a neighbor's home on Antler Lane, where Dawn Ryan had fled after her intoxicated husband threatened to kill her, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Neighbor Ruth Trumbetta said Dawn Ryan was talking with police on a cell phone when she came to her door, barefoot and wearing pajamas, just before halftime of the Pittsburgh Steelers game.

“She was frantic and hysterical,” Trumbetta said. “We just gave her some place warm to stay while she called the police and her family.”

Knowing there were firearms in the Ryan home, the two troopers made phone contact with Daniel Ryan and asked him to come outside. When Ryan did not leave the house, the troopers called to him from the safety of their patrol car.

“While they were giving him commands, gunshots started ringing out,” Limani said.

More than a dozen troopers arrived at the scene and heard bullets hitting nearby, according to the affidavit.

“Fortunately, none of our troopers … ended up with any type of injury,” Limani said.

At least 17 rounds were fired from two .9 mm handguns between about 10:30 p.m. Thursday and 1:06 a.m. Friday, police said.

When Ryan didn't respond to a negotiations team, troopers lobbed tear gas into his house, Limani said. Ryan eventually surrendered unarmed and was treated for tear gas exposure.

“In this instance, (tear gas) worked very effectively,” Limani said. “The outcome might've been a lot different if he came out with a firearm.”

Nearby roads, including Toll Route 66 between the Harrison City and Jeannette exits, were closed and homes were evacuated during the incident, Limani said. Antler Lane, a curvy, private road off North Greengate Road, is separated from Route 66 by a swath of woods about 100 yards wide. The roads remained closed for several hours, Limani said.

Dawn Ryan and the Trumbettas were escorted from Antler Lane to the Greensburg state police barracks between 11 and 11:30 p.m., Trumbetta said.

When the Trumbettas returned home at about 8 a.m. Friday, police were still investigating at the scene. Nearly every window in the Ryans' home was shattered; some had bullet holes.

Ryan told DeMarchis he and his wife have lived at the home for five years. He has been a caseworker with the state Department of Public Welfare for six years.

“I've never been in trouble in my life,” he told the judge. “I have been treated for alcohol issues before.”

Court records show only one traffic citation issued to him last year.

Daniel and Dawn Ryan were married in 2004 in Indiana County, according to courthouse records. As part of his bail conditions, Daniel Ryan is not permitted to have contact with his wife or possess a firearm.

Trumbetta described the couple as quiet and friendly. She said she had never heard fighting or any type of disturbance from their home.

“If I hadn't been home to experience this, I never would have believed this,” Trumbetta said.

Assistant District Attorney Leo Ciaramitaro was present for Ryan's arraignment.

“Firing at state troopers is obviously a very scary situation,” he said afterward.

Ryan remains in the Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $500,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 18.

Renatta Signorini and Jewels Phraner are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Signorini can be reached at 724-837-5374 or Phraner can be reached at 724-850-1218 or Staff writer Paul Peirce contributed.

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