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Suspect surrenders in Penn Township foundry evacuation

| Thursday, May 23, 2013, 11:45 a.m.
Matthew Smith

In a span of two minutes, a gun-wielding Greensburg man allegedly walked into his Penn Township workplace, ordered his co-workers out and then fled before police arrived.

Matthew Devon Smith, 28, didn't verbally threaten workers at Perma-Cast Inc. when he entered the foundry at 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, but seeing him carrying an assault rifle and a handgun frightened them, township police Chief John Otto said.

At 11:17 p.m., Smith was seen on security camera footage fleeing the scene, setting off a 12-hour manhunt during which police searched surrounding municipalities for a gold Hyundai that Smith was seen driving.

Smith surrendered to Monroeville authorities Thursday afternoon and was questioned by police. He was arraigned by video on charges of risking a catastrophe, simple assault, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct before District Judge Roger Eckels. Smith is being held in the Westmoreland County jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

At some point on Wednesday, Smith was notified by his employer that he was being suspended from work for three days for “violations of work performance,” police said in an affidavit of probable cause.

“At the time of his suspension, he was aggravated and left the business,” Patrolman Douglas Lewis wrote in the affidavit.

Police are investigating why Smith visited the business Wednesday while a handful of employees were at Perma-Cast, which is in an industrial park near Route 22, Otto said. A Perma-Cast official did not return a message seeking comment.

Smith allegedly walked through the loading dock, carrying an AK-47 in his hands and a handgun in his pocket, “and he told the people within that business to get out,” Otto said.

While police were interviewing witnesses after the incident, smoke began pouring from the building. Otto said investigators believe the smoke was a result of a machine overheating after employees were ordered to leave.

After Smith fled, police believe he spent time in Monroeville and Greensburg, “just kinda laying low,” Otto said.

“He placed the guns in a storage locker in Greensburg someplace,” Otto said.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 4 before Penn Township District Judge Helen Kistler.

Perma-Cast produces mold castings for various worldwide manufacturing and service industries, including electrical and locomotive. It is in Westmoreland Industrial Park III.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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