Western Psych shooter's parents express their sorrow
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The parents of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic gunman John F. Shick on Friday expressed their grief over the March 8 shooting that left seven wounded and two dead -- including their son.
"We have been cooperating with the authorities investigating this terrible event," Larry and Susan Shick wrote in a short statement emailed to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We share the grief and pain of the victims and their families, and we hope that they, and the press, will respect our grief, pain and privacy."
It was unclear from where the Shicks sent their statement. The couple had been sailing along both coasts of the U.S. and in the Caribbean since 2004 and were near the Bahamas when authorities contacted them this week to notify them of the attacks.
Mr. Shick, 30, of North Oakland was killed by University of Pittsburgh police officers after he entered the lobby of Western Psych armed with two handguns and opened fire. He fatally shot geriatric therapist Michael Schaab, 25, and wounded five others.
Of the five people shot and injured during the event, three remained at UPMC Presbyterian on Friday, where all were in fair or good condition.
Funeral services for Mr. Shick will be held locally and coordinated by the Thomas M. Smith Funeral Home in Blawnox. Funeral home employees said the Shick family asked them to keep details of the arrangements private. They declined to elaborate on their contact with the family.
Those details emerged Friday, as Pittsburgh police, detectives from the Allegheny County district attorney's office and investigators from the medical examiner's office continued their probe into the shootings and the troubled graduate student responsible for them.
Attorneys for UPMC signed a consent agreement Friday releasing Mr. Shick's medical records to the Allegheny County district attorney's office, which had sought the records as part of its probe. The medical examiner's office obtained the records earlier this week after receiving a court order. A judge ordered the agencies not to share the records with anyone else.
Also on Friday, Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper issued an order that on-duty officers "will not surrender or secure their firearms when entering Western Psychiatric Hospital and Clinic (or any other hospital facility)."
Officers had expressed safety concerns after the shootings because it is customary practice for them to relinquish their guns at the front desk of Western Psych or at the emergency room entrance when they bring arrestees or patients involuntarily committed to the clinic. At a news conference after the shooting, Western Psych CEO Claudia Roth confirmed that officers check their weapons upon entry but would not say whether that would change in light of the violence. She said hospital officials are reviewing all of their security procedures.
UPMC officials declined further comment Friday.
As a security precaution, officials closed Western Psych's satellite Drake Building on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield and canceled appointments there Friday after a patient phoned in a threat late Thursday, police said. Officers were called to look for the woman as staff was concerned because she had access to weapons. Police were looking to commit her, but officers did not immediately find her.
"At no time were patients or employees in harm's way," UPMC said in a statement. "Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to limit the number of individuals at the site."
First Published March 17, 2012 12:00 am