WHITE TOWNSHIP (KTKA) – At least one person was killed and eight others were injured in a shooting early Sunday morning in White Township, not far from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. At this time, Pennsylvania State Police say there may be more than one shooter and they are still at large.
Police were called just after 12:30 a.m. to the Chevy Chase Community Center on North 5th Avenue, about a mile from IUP’s campus. They said the center was privately rented and required a fee to enter. About 150 people were inside when someone opened fire.
The deceased has been identified as a 22-year-old man from Pittsburgh. An 18-year-old man from Chicago is in critical condition, and five other people have been hospitalized with injuries. Except for an 18-year-old from Chicago, the seven injured were between the ages of 18 and 23, one from Florida and the rest from Pennsylvania.
A spokesperson for IUP said at least two of the nine people shot were students.
Outside the center on Sunday morning, shoes could be seen strewn on the ground, left behind by people fleeing the gunfire.
Ellen Ober choked back tears as the shots rang out just feet from her home, where she lives with her husband, Robert Miller. Around 20 gunshots were heard.
“It’s very scary and overwhelming,” Ober said. “Bang, bang, bang, over and over again. It’s not one or two.”
Miller looked out the window and saw everyone running out of the center.
“This whole parking lot was full of runners. They were all running back and forth, back and forth,” Miller said.
They trampled each other, some went off the floor of the center and broke a part of the fence.
“I knew something bad was going to happen,” Miller said.
The circumstances behind the party are unclear, but it was IUP’s homecoming weekend.
IUP’s alert system sent messages to students to remain in a safe place until 6:40 a.m
A spokeswoman for IUP told KDKA the school did not sponsor the party, but confirmed students were there.
“There were young people there who shouldn’t be bleeding on the sidewalk,” Ober said.
On Facebook, the center’s executive director, Brandi Ports, released the following statement:
“I know our community will wake up to the news of the shooting at the community center last night.
As Managing Director, I must personally convey this.
First, we pray for everyone involved in tonight’s incident.
We will be closed until further notice. We will update the community as much as we can.
Please pray for those involved, for our community, and for our staff and volunteers.
If anyone has any information please get in touch [state police].”
Neighbors said the center helps provide food to those in need.
“They were trying to make the center better for everyone,” said a former IUP employee who did not want to be identified.
Now that they are seeking justice for the community, they hope it won’t close for good.
“It’s not right,” Ober said.
Late Sunday, police said they believed the shooting was an isolated incident and posed no danger to the public.
A former IUP employee told KDKA it’s not unusual for university students to rent the center for events.
In a letter to students, the university’s vice president for student affairs addressed the feelings of fear and anxiety that can plague the student community:
“IUP is a community that cares about each other. Your safety and security is our priority, and we are constantly looking for ways to improve our processes. As a community as we are, we welcome and we need your help.”
The university also shared advice for those who want to speak out.
Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers and the ATF are offering a $15,000 reward for the identification of the shooters.
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro said he was notified of the shooting overnight.
“So [state police] Investigate and Lori and I are praying for the victims of this tragedy,” he said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We ask that anyone with information contact the state police. Our hearts go out to the White Township community.”
Stay with KDKA.com for more details