Kittanning police seek help in beating death near bar
KITTANNING — Armstrong County authorities say as many as 30 or 40 people may have witnessed the fatal beating of a Butler County man early Sunday morning near a borough bar and police are pleading for help to put together the pieces.
James P. Sullivan, 39, of Chicora was found lying face up and seriously injured on Montieth Street shortly before 2 a.m. and pronounced dead at ACMH Hospital less than an hour later, according to deputy coroner Brian Myers.
“The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and abdomen,” said Myers at a press conference held on Monday afternoon. “As for the manner of death, that's still under investigation.”
District Attorney Scott Andreassi said investigators don't have a suspect and wouldn't speculate on any sort of motive, but said the incident may have been one of several fights that broke out in the area of the Wick City Saloon along Orr Avenue.
“We've received information that part of a conversation or a disagreement began inside the bar, but the incident itself and the activities all occurred outside the bar, either in the parking lot area or street,” said Andreassi. “Most if not all of the people who were on the street likely came from the bar at one point. The information we have now is that Sullivan was there (in the bar).”
Kittanning Police Chief Ed Cassesse said several fights may have been going on outside the bar and that a large gathering of people huddled around the fight involving Sullivan.
“With that many people around, someone saw what happened,” said Cassesse. “We're getting bits and pieces, but they're not fitting the way we need them to fit at this point.”
Lt. Steve Ignatz with the state police in Butler said that although authorities haven't come across surveillance footage of the incident, they have reason to believe photographs and videos may have been recorded by witnesses.
“We're hoping that somebody will come forward with that information,” said Ignatz. “If they have pictures, if they have video somehow captured (and could provide them to us), it would be immensely helpful to this investigation.”
Andreassi said social media already has proved people were there.
“We know there are Facebook posts and we know there are Twitter posts,” he said. “We know there are people out there who do have information and we're asking them to contact us directly rather than have to fish through social media.”
At the same time, Ignatz said it's difficult to filter out first-hand accounts from rumors.
“A lot of it is second and third-hand information,” said Ignatz. “We're finding (much of it) is inaccurate or exaggerated.”
That's why authorities are asking anyone who may have witnessed anything either inside or outside the bar to share what they saw.
“This is a tragic thing that happened,” said Cassesse. “It's not an everyday occurrence for the area, so we're hoping somebody will step forward and give us the information we need.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Kittanning police at 724-543-1538 or the state police at 724-543-2011.
Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Armstrong in test program using slag on icy roads
- Living Water Church takes over Knights of Columbus building in Kittanning
- Car crashes into house on East Brady Road in East Franklin
- Progressive Workshop open houses Thursday in Kittanning, Rayburn
- Armstrong Conservation District shows off year’s work
- Pickleball ambassador gets sport a spot at YMCA in Kittanning