Gunman surrenders in Washington County

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An armed, suicidal gunman whom police surrounded in a wooded area behind a Wal-Mart in West Brownsville, Washington County, has surrendered, state police said.

Trooper Stefani Plume said John Kerik, 28, of West Brownsville, surrendered about 3:30 p.m., nearly five hours after the stand-off began. No one was injured and no shots were fired, she said.

Mr. Kerik, who lives with his mother in West Brownsville, recently signed himself out of the mental health ward of Highlands Hospital in Connellsville, said Southwest Regional Police Chief John Hartman.

Mr. Kerik drove Monday to his father's house in Newell and took his brother's rifle from the residence without permission, Chief Hartman said. Mr. Kerik met with another brother and indicated "he had some business to take care of in Uniontown," according to the chief.

Mr. Kerik then showed up at an ex-girlfriend's house in Uniontown. When she did not let Mr. Kerik in, he departed and was next spotted on Main Street in West Brownsville walking with the rifle, the chief said.

By then, Mr. Kerik's family had alerted authorities that Mr. Kerik had a weapon and was threatening to kill himself, Chief Hartman said.

The chief found a witness who saw Mr. Kerik heading toward a densely wooded hill. Mr. Kerik walked up and over before coming out into an open field at the Wal-Mart.

While authorities from at least six departments surrounded the area, Mr. Kerik put the gun to his head and threatened to commit suicide, Chief Hartman said. He did not take any hostages and did not threaten police, Trooper Plume said.

The chief said his department will charge Mr. Kerik with theft. He also has an outstanding bench warrant related to not appearing in civil court for a domestic relations case in August in Fayette County, the chief said.

Mr. Kerik has been involuntarily committed to Mon Valley Hospital in Monongahela.

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Jonathan D. Silver: or 412-263-1962.


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