Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitt Police Sergeant Credits His Training in Stopping of Gunman

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitt Police Sergeant Credits His Training in Stopping of Gunman

Article excerpt

University of Pittsburgh police Sgt. Dan Papale was minutes into his shift when the call came crackling over his radio: Someone was shooting in the lobby of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Oakland.

The next calls to 911 were hang-ups. Still in the station, the sergeant grabbed his patrol rifle and headed into the unknown.

The Western Psych lobby was in chaos. People were screaming that a gunman was at large.

Sgt. Papale let his training take over.

As he had done countless times during drills designed to prepare him for such a day, Sgt. Papale stood in the lobby and yelled, "Give me a 'T!'" Like clockwork, the six officers around him split into teams.

"Someone yelled, 'He's that way!' " and the hunt for the gunman was on, Sgt. Papale, 30, of O'Hara said Wednesday, speaking for the first time about the rampage he has been credited with ending.

Three shots from the sergeant's AR-15 rifle fatally struck John Shick, 30, who was still aiming a 9 mm handgun at officers when he fell to the ground.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. described the efforts of Sgt. Papale and fellow Pitt officers as "nothing short of heroic."

But Sgt. Papale, a six-year veteran of Pitt's 74-member force, said the department's rigorous training, which he instructs, was what helped save lives.

"I was in that place at that moment, but any one of the other officers on the department could have easily done what I did," he said.

The gunman fired upon the officers as soon as the group of seven officers split into "formation." Three fired shots at Mr. Shick, backing him down a hallway, while a team of four, led by Sgt. Papale, headed the opposite direction, relying on screams and gunshots to find the gunman and pursue him from behind.

"It was a rapid volley of gunfire," Sgt. Papale said. Echoes made it hard to pinpoint its source. …

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