Share This Page

Mount Pleasant man who threatened gas explosion surrenders

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 8:14 a.m.

A Mt. Pleasant man who threatened to blow up his house by cutting natural gas lines surrendered to state police early Wednesday and will undergo a mental evaluation and could face criminal charges.

State police did not identify the man who held officers at bay after his sister called Westmoreland 911 about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday to report his threat.

Mt. Pleasant fire Chief Jerry Lucia said firefighters evacuated 19 homes in a one-block radius of the suspect's home in the 800 block of Vine Street. No one was hurt, and neighbors have been allowed to return home.

The man has personal and financial problems, according to police.

Police said the man surrendered peacefully about 3 a.m. Wednesday after troopers threw a device through the window.

Lucia said he and crews went to the scene after the call to 911.

After he and his crews determined that gas had leaked, they began evacuating 19 residences on West Vine and Broad streets.

“We were waking people up to tell them we had a gas problem, but we didn't want to panic them with the details of the whole story,” Lucia said. “After it was all over, we did find that he (the suspect) disconnected the gas line from the hot water tank, which filled the house with gas.”

Many residents took temporary shelter at the borough's Central Fire Station on South Church Street, he said.

“At the time of the evacuation, it was snowing pretty good. They (residents) evacuated pretty quickly. The evacuation was done really well. No problems whatsoever,” Lucia said.

Some elderly residents who use oxygen were taken to the fire station by Mt. Pleasant Medic 10, Lucia said. Others went to stay with friends and family members.

Dan Zilli, assistant chief of borough police department, led efforts to communicate with the suspect while he was inside the home, Lucia said.

“He never responded back to us,” Lucia said. “We kept trying to get his attention with the intercom and by blowing the siren, but that wasn't working.”

Eventually, the man came out of the house and was taken into custody, Lucia said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.