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Pittsburgh Police, FBI investigating threats to churches

PITTSBURGH — Federal authorities are now assisting Pittsburgh Police after threats were called in to two different churches over the weekend.

About 30 worshippers were escorted out of St. John’s Catholic Church on Saline Street in Greenfield in small groups with heavily armed police at their side Sunday morning after a man threatened to harm himself and others there.

According to police, a man called 911 threatening harm just after 11:15 a.m. He told 911 he had multiple firearms.

<<RELATED STORY: About 30 worshippers escorted out of Pittsburgh church after man phones in threat.

Police also responded to a church on the North Side where congregants called 911 after observing a parishioner wearing a gun during the service. Police responded and the man provided a valid conceal carry permit and was allowed to leave.

In response to these threats and perceived danger, Pittsburgh Police is working directly with the FBI to investigate the source and determine any connection between the two incidents.

“Pittsburgh Public Safety takes all threats of violence or terrorism extremely seriously. Pittsburgh Police Intelligence Unit detectives are working closely with our federal partners within FBI Pittsburgh, sharing information and intelligence to determine the origin of the threats,” said Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich.

“In the meantime, we are reassured that in one instance, citizens called police when they observed suspicious behavior. We encourage everyone to adhere to the tenet, ‘if you see something, say something.’ It is only by working together that we can keep our communities safe.”

Police have added extra patrols and are taking additional precautions to safeguard these churches and all houses of worship within the city. The bureau does not discuss specific operational details.