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Multiple victims in Western Psych shooting

By Sadie Gurman, Liz Navratil and Dan Majors, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
At least five people have been shot at Western Psychiatric Institue and Clinic of UPMC. One shooter has been accounted for, but police are searching for a possible second shooter.p>

A University of Pittsburgh police officer was grazed in the leg, officials said.

SWAT teams from Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Port Authority and state police have been called to the scene.

Police were called shortly before 2 p.m. Police were checking reports that a person is being held hostage.

One woman, who did not give her name, said she and some other nurses from Western Psych were slowly returning from their lunch break when a woman yelled at them not to enter the building. The woman said there was a shooter in the first floor lobby and that at least five people had been hit, including a Pitt police officer who was struck while walking in the front door.

"A few seconds later and we would have been in the lobby," she said, adding that she was grateful she and her friends had stalled their return to the hospital.

Police officers are searching the Oakland building for the shooter and other victims.

A message sent to Pitt employees at 2:08 p.m. said that several people have been injured and that "lock-down recommended until further notice."

It also said, "If safe to do so, tell others of this message."

UPMC hospitals in Oakland were put on a bronze alert at 1:58 p.m. for someone with a weapon in Western Psych. The alert requires employees to stay where they are and respond to the alert with their exact location.

Family members of those involved in the shootings will go to Petersen Event Center. Those safely evaucated from Western Psych are also being taken to Petersen.

Several nearby buildings are on lockdown, including the elementary school at Carlow University. Central Catholic and the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy 6-12 - both on "modified lockdown" meaning no one can enter or exit the schools.

Family House, a nonprofit group that provides temporary residences for those dealing with serious or life-threatening illness, ordered its nearby University Place location -- as well as its other three facilities -- into lockdown.

"All four houses are in lockdown for the safety of our guests," said spokeswoman Holly Bulvony. "We are in the process of accounting for each and every guest. And, of course, no one is going in or out at this time. Until we know exactly what is happening."

She said emergency procedures were in place as soon as officials got word of the shootings.

"Everyone's calm and keeping our guests comfortable and carrying out our mission as if it were any other day."

Pitt is on break, so there are few students there.

The 81 Oak Hill and 83 Webster bus routes are detouring via Lothrop Street instead of DeSoto Street, which is blocked, according to the Port Authority.

The 93 Lawrenceville-Oakland is continuing on Fifth rather than turning on DeSoto, turning left on McKee Place, left on Forbes Avenue, left on Bigelow Boulevard and right to stay on Bigelow and return to its regular route.

Buses that use Fifth and Forbes avenues are not being detoured.

UPMC's website says that Western Psych "has been a national leader in providing research-base care and treatment of mental health and addictive disorders" which includes dealing with people with depression and bi-polar disorder.

Security is normally very tight at Western Psych, according to those who work there. Visitors must stop at a first-floor reception desk for a visitor's badge, but they are not checked with a metal detector until they are about to enter one of the locked units upstairs.

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