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September 14, 2012

Local schools react quickly to shooting

JOHNSTOWN — Three of the four education institutions located within blocks of the Richland Township Municipal Building went into lockdown minutes after the  shooting at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

The Richland School District secured both its elementary and senior high. Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, which has a campus on Community College Way, took protective measures, too.

The lockdowns involved prohibiting anybody from entering or leaving the buildings and keeping students in their classrooms.

The schools reacted after Kevin McGee, 45, of Johnstown, was shot in the torso by a Richland police officer after the suspect allegedly fired a round into one of the department’s cruisers.

“Everything went according to our plan,” said Richland School District Superintendent Tom Fleming.

Fleming informed parents about the incident with a voice message in which he said, “I was one of the first at the scene to learn that a lone gunman and a police officer engaged in gunfire at the rear of the Richland Township building. The suspect was immediately apprehended.”

Trish Corle, the community college’s associate vice president for external relations, felt Penn Highlands also effectively operated its lockdown procedure.

“It was just a precautionary measure,” Corle said. “I felt like everybody responded how we would want them to respond.”

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, which also is located nearby, took no action.

“There was no danger to the campus,” said UPJ spokesman Robert Knipple. “Had there been danger, we absolutely would have put our critical response plan into action.”

The township municipal building is located at 322 Schoolhouse Road. That section of the road, which passes between the municipal building and Richland’s elementary school, was closed for most of the afternoon.

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