Western Psych shooting victim Michael Schaab recalled at vigil

'He was the glue that kept us together'

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"We love u Mike." The words lit up on the neon sign of the Old Route 66 Grille, the Greensburg restaurant owned by Michael Schaab's family.

On Thursday, Mr. Schaab, 25, had just returned from a break at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC, where he worked as a geriatric therapist, when he was gunned down in the lobby by 30-year-old John Shick.

Police have yet to determine a motive in the slaying.

Next to the restaurant, his friends from Greensburg Central Catholic High School decorated the wraparound porch of the family's two-story home with white Christmas lights and a line of candles.

Friends organized a vigil there Sunday night in celebration of a life cut short by a "senseless" act.

"We thought when they talked about doing this that it was a wonderful idea," said his aunt, Lynn Daum of Monroeville. "This is something Mikey would have done for someone in the same situation."

One by one, a tight-knit group of friends that met in preschool took the microphone on the family porch to share their positive memories of Mr. Schaab with hundreds of community members that rallied to support his family.

Megan Shively, who was set to marry Mr. Schaab next year, stood next to his mother.

The loss was the second for Mr. Schaab's parents, Mary and Harry Schaab, in less than two years. Their daughter Nancy, 26, was killed during a domestic dispute in October 2010 by her boyfriend, who pled guilty last year to voluntary manslaughter.

Despite the circumstances, the night was filled with laughter and smiles.

At work, Mr. Schaab was described as having the utmost patience with patients who weren't always easy to deal with.

"It's amazing the number of coworkers who have come up with tears in their eyes and said what a joy it was to work with him," said Joe Daum, his uncle and godfather.

Mr. Schaab's friends said a celebration was the only way to commemorate the life of the spontaneous, fun and caring young man.

"One thing about Mike is that he was the glue that kept us together, and it looks like he brought us together one last time," a friend said.

Visitation for Mr. Schaab will continue from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. today at the Bash-Nied Funeral Home in Delmont. Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. John Baptist de la Salle Church, also in Delmont.

Four of seven people who were wounded in the Western Psych attack remained hospitalized at UPMC Presbyterian, a hospital spokeswoman said. Among them were 64-year-old Kathryn Leight, who was shot four times and was in fair condition.

Two other people were also in fair condition and one of the victims remained hospitalized in good condition.

The Allegheny County medical examiner's office on Sunday morning notified John Shick's parents, Susan and Larry Shick, of the gunman's death. Police contacted the U.S. Coast Guard for help in reaching the couple, who have been sailing near the Bahamas.

Police continued to study items collected at Mr. Shick's North Oakland apartment, which included many handwritten notes, doctor's bills, computers and a 30-pound bag of unspecified medication.

Police have not divulged a motive for the violence but were investigating whether Mr. Shick had a history of mental illness. Neighbors said he posted angry notes on his door, struggled to communicate and had glassy, bloodshot eyes in the days leading up to the shooting.

He was barred from Duquesne University's campus in November after the school said he harassed female students by text and email, persistently seeking to form relationships with them.

Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were among topics Mr. Shick, most recently a graduate biology student at Duquesne, had studied.

As an undergraduate student, Mr. Shick spent at least one summer researching schizophrenia at the Mailman Research Center in the McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass.

The lab investigates the causes of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder with the hopes of finding ways to better treat the illnesses, a spokeswoman said.

Taryn Luna: tluna@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1985. Sadie Gurman contributed. First Published March 12, 2012 4:00 AM


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