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EMT accused of torching ambulance after being disciplined

| Tuesday, April 23, 2002

North Braddock - An emergency medical technician for a North Braddock ambulance service was accused of setting fire to one of the ambulances a few days after being disciplined, Allegheny County Police Superintendent Kenneth Fulton said Monday.

Gregory Shearer, an emergency medical technician for Priority One Medical Transport, was arrested last week on charges of arson and criminal mischief for the fire that erupted during the early morning hours of March 16 in the ambulance company parking lot on Baldridge Avenue.

Shearer, 38, of Irwin, Westmoreland County, was arraigned before District Justice Ross Cioppa of Rankin and released on his own recognizance to await a preliminary hearing.

According to a police affidavit filed by county police Detective Edward Kusen, who is assigned to the county fire marshal's office, Sandy Peppler, owner of Priority One told investigators that she conducted a disciplinary hearing for Shearer on March 13 at which time she suspended him for one day and changed his shift from midnight to daylight.

Peppler told investigators the Shearer was disciplined for allegations made about his behavior by the nursing staff at a nursing home.

The fire was discovered at 4:21 a.m. March 16 and caused more than $5,000 damage to the ambulance.

Peppler said when she got to the fire scene, Shearer was there along with on-duty ambulance personnel. Shearer told her he had been crossing the Rankin Bridge when he heard a report of the fire on a police scanner and went to help.

A West Mifflin man told police that he and Shearer had spent the previous nine hours drinking at a party and at a bar. He said Shearer dropped him off at his home at 3:43 a.m.

Shearer, who initially denied any involvement in the fire, finally admitted using a pocket lighter to set the driver's seat of the ambulance on fire.

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