A gunman opened fire outside a crowded courtroom Wednesday afternoon, injuring a police officer and three civilians before another officer fired multiple shots at him, killing him.
Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower said the shooting took place around 2 p.m. outside the office of District Judge Daniel Shimshock, about 60 miles south of Pittsburgh.
Bower said a German Township police officer shot and killed the gunman, after the gunman entered the lobby with a handgun drawn and opened fire.
Bower declined to name the assailant, saying only that he was due in court on charges related to a recent domestic violence incident.
The district attorney identified the officer who was shot as Sgt. R. Scott Miller of the Masontown Police Department.
“Unfortunately, Sergeant Miller was shot by the actor,” Bower said. “And the actor then entered the building, shot two males and one female.”
"In this case, as is so often the case, the German Township police officer ran toward the danger, not away.” Bower continued. “He protected over 30 to 40 people from injury or death.”
"These police officers and these emergency management people risk their lives every day ... and today they all were a shining light to our community," he added.
Bower said Sgt. Miller is in good condition.
A Fayette County 911 center supervisor confirmed the three civilian victims were taken to the Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W. Va., for treatment. Amy Johns, public affairs director at the hospital, said late Wednesday they had received a 47-year-old male, 35-year-old male and 39-year-old female from the shooting. Johns said all were in fair condition as of about 5:45 p.m.
District attorney Bower declined to say whether any of the civilian victims were related to the domestic violence allegations. He said the gunman was facing charges of strangulation, aggravated assault, terroristic threats and simple assault. He said there was a protection of abuse order against the gunman in the strangulation case.
Bower also noted that, at the time of the shooting, there were many people in Shimshock’s courtroom.
“In the hearing room at that time was District Judge Shimshock, an assistant district attorney, several defense attorneys, police officers, witnesses, and defendants for preliminary hearings, and staff of Judge Shimshock’s office,” Bower said.
Joyce Royster was in the courtroom at the Masontown Borough Municipal Center Wednesday. She told WTAE there were dozens of people inside the courtroom when the shooting started just outside. She said people fled the courtroom as the shooter started to move inside and took shelter in offices and other courtrooms.
District judge Shimshock and his staff were not the intended targets of the shooting, according to State Police troop commander Lt. Steven C. Dowlin.
State police said the scene had been "secured" by the end of the afternoon and that there was no longer any threat. They are asking for any witnesses to contact their local office.
At least one nearby elementary school was placed on lockdown after the shooting. Masontown Elementary School officials redirected several bus routes to the fire station for parents to pick up students.
Dowlin said this is the second mass shooting that state police have responded to in Fayette County this year. He said in February troopers stopped a young individual at a Uniontown High School from carrying out a shooting.
"It's becoming way too common," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
*This post was updated at 10:04 p.m.