Jeannette to hire private firm to bolster football game security
The Jeannette School District intends to hire a private security company that will station four guards at McKee Stadium for Friday’s football game, complementing a contingent of officers from the Jeannette Police Department and state police.
The school board Monday voted to hire Tactical Enforcement Agents, a Pittsburgh area security firm, to provide security at the football game, pending approval from Superintendent Matthew Jones and a review by the district’s attorney.
“There will be an extra set of eyes,” at the game, Jones said.
The superintendent said he met with the school board in a closed-door executive session Monday for 90 minutes to discuss security and personnel.
The superintendent and school officials met Monday with Jeannette police Chief Shannon Binda and Donald Johnston, Jeannette’s school resource officer, to discuss the security at the football games because of the fatal shooting Friday outside the upper Park Street gate at McKee Stadium.
Jones said he will release a statement Tuesday. Binda could not be reached for comment Monday.
Dameian L. Williams was shot to death outside the stadium while the Jayhawks were playing Imani Christian.
“I can never recall an incident outside the gate,” in 23 years with the school district, Jones said.
The shooting occurred at 9:22 p.m. after an altercation with the suspected shooter, Greg A. Harper, 40, of Jeannette. Williams died of his wounds shortly before 10 p.m. at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital, Greensburg, Westmoreland County Coroner Ken Bacha said.
Harper was arrested within minutes of the shooting and placed in Westmoreland County Prison on charges of homicide and reckless endangerment. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 19 before Jeannette District Judge Joseph DeMarchis.
The school district will collaborate with the city police department to assess and implement any additional measures or improvements needed to help prevent incidents, Jones said in a statement released over the weekend.
School officials have started to review safety protocols and procedures implemented during the shooting “to ensure all precautions taken were in the best interest of our community, students and visitors,” Jones said in the statement.
Mark Gogolsky, school board vice president, praised the staff for its quick reaction to get fans safely out of the stadium.
At the stadium gates where the shooting occurred, a large memorial with Williams’ photograph, numerous balloons, stuffed bears and Coke cans were spread along a fence across from where the victim was shot.
“It was pointless,” his niece, Shantel Johnson of Jeannette, said of Williams’ shooting.
“It was all over a girl,” said Michelle Johnson of Jeannette, Shantel’s mother.
The man whose nickname was “Piggy,” is to be buried Tuesday, following a funeral service at the Rock of Refuge Congregational Church, 102 Clay Ave. Jeannette.
The discussion on security measures comes five days before the Jayhawks are scheduled to play Avella, a Washington County school district, at McKee Stadium.
Avella Superintendent Cyril Walther could not be reached for comment.
Jeannette, as well as other area school districts, use police as part of their security detail at football games.
At Greensburg Salem’s Offutt Field in Greensburg, the district hires six off-duty city officers, plus there are five officers on regular patrol Friday evenings available in case of an emergency, Capt. Robert Stafford said.
“We’ve never had a shooting outside the gate,” Stafford said.
Norwin uses both school police and North Huntingdon police at all home football games and other events as needed; as well as crowd-control personnel, said Brandon Rapp, Norwin athletic director.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .