Town hall meeting held in Franklin Park about keeping students safe from gun violence

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FRANKLIN PARK, Pa. — Thursday, Pittsburgh Police Chief Larry Scirotto announced the watchful eyes of a bus driver and a parent helped his officers catch a potential school shooting at Westinghouse Academy on Sept. 15 before it happened.

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“I am certain that the officer’s actions, the community’s response to suspicious behavior, thwarted another school shooting in the city of Pittsburgh, specifically Westinghouse,” Scirotto said.The vigilant onlookers reported a suspicious car circling the school around dismissal time.

“You’re not driving around a neighborhood with a ski mask and a gun for entertainment. There’s a reason you’re driving around that way. That’s the type of behavior we need reported,” said Mayor Ed Gainey.

Investigators detained and questioned three juveniles in that vehicle, charging two of them after finding a gun in the car.

Thursday evening, in the North Hills, gun control advocates CeaseFirePA and Coalition for Safe Community Spaces hosted a panel discussion on making schools safer.

“Our kids are under so much pressure. It’s our responsibility to do what we can to support them,” said Beth Foringer, with CeaseFirePA. “Supporting them is not arming teachers. Supporting them is not creating school systems with curved walls and metal detectors.”

“We can talk about school security measures and other things, but unless we’re willing to get to the root cause unless we’re willing to say, ‘We’re going to prevent gun violence,’ we’re not really going to answer this crisis,” said Democratic State Representative Arvind Venkat.

Among the panelists was North Allegheny Intermediate School Resource Officer Mike Metzger.

Just this week, he investigated after a student at NAI discovered a .22 caliber bullet shell casing on the floor in the school auditorium.

“I don’t think it was nefarious and no other reports came in, so deemed that it was not a threat almost within 10-15 minutes,” Metzger said, explaining the shell casing could’ve been there for weeks.

Thankfully no one was hurt in either of these recent incidents, thanks in part to community vigilance and a quick response.

“We’ve had more people speak out now than ever before and that’s a good thing,” Gainey said.

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