MASONTOWN (CBS PITTSBURGH) – Police were called to a shooting at a magistrate’s office in Fayette County Wednesday afternoon.
According to police, the shooting happened inside the office of Magisterial District Judge Daniel Shimshock on East Church Avenue in Masontown.
Five people were shot, including the shooter. One police officer was also among those shot.
Dozens of people were inside the building at the time, but Shimshock and members of his staff were not injured.
According to police, a male entered the lobby of the Masontown Municipal Building around 2 p.m. and opened fire.
Police officers from Masontown and German Township entered the lobby and engaged the shooter. The officer from German Township shot and fatally wounded the suspect.
“I want to make it clear, without the rapid response of these brave officers to the shooting, more individuals may have been shot,” Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Steve Dowlin said.
“The German Township police officer ran toward the danger, not away. He protected over 30 to 40 people from injury or death,” District Attorney Richard Bower said.
German Township Police Chief Dave Hromada also responded to the scene as the incident was unfolding.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of mixed emotions when you’re involved in something that like that. Basically, I’m just glad that the officers are all ok,” Chief Hromada said. “It’s unfortunate that someone lost their life, but I’m proud of my officer and I think everyone did what they’re trained to do.”
Masontown Police Sgt. R. Scott Miller was shot in the hand. He is expected to be ok.
Sources close to the investigation say this shooting was related to an ongoing domestic violence situation.
A witness said he was in the parking lot when he heard gunshots. When he turned around, he saw a woman running from a man with a gun.
“I was standing in the parking lot in front of the magistrate and I heard a gunshot or what seemed to be a gunshot. I turned around and saw a guy with a gun and lady was five to eight feet away from the shooter and his gun jammed up. He was trying to get it to shoot again and it wouldn’t shoot. So when he got it to shoot again, I took cover beside the magistrate,” Xuan Sayles said. “I saw the cop, he was taking cover behind the vehicle and he said, ‘Stay back,’ but he was shot. I ran over to him, took my shirt off, my tank top first, and wrapped it around his hand. But, he was still bleeding so profusely that I took my other shirt off and wrapped it around his hand and then, I took my belt off and wrapped it around his wrist.”
Sayles said the suspect shot out the front door windows and continued to fire once he went inside the building.
“The shooter had shot the windows out as I was running to the cop, he was shooting through the glass doors,” Sayles said. “Once he went in, I heard at least 10 shots.”
Those inside the building attempted to take cover when they heard gunfire.
“I’m watching the door, I’m crouched down against the wall, there are people to my left, people still flowing into the courtroom and the gentleman comes in, sweeps the room with the gun and it ends up being on me. I’m staring at this gun, staring at him and praying, ‘Dear God, don’t let this be my day,’” a witness said. “I’ve never looked down the barrel of a gun.”
Two men, ages 35 and 47, were injured along with a 39-year-old woman. All were taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital and are believed to be in fair condition.
State Rep. Pam Snyder issued the following statement in response to the shooting:
“My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by today’s senseless act of violence at the Masontown magistrate’s office.
State police are asking for anyone information regarding this incident to call the Uniontown barracks at 724-439-7111.