Masontown, PA – A German Township police officer shot and killed an enraged man on a shooting spree on Wednesday afternoon.
The gunman shot four people, including Masontown Police Sergeant Scott Miller, before his rampage was stopped, according to the Herald Standard.
Masontown and German Township officers rushed to stop the shooter.
“In this case as is so often the case, the German Township officer ran toward the danger, not away,” Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday evening. “He protected 30 to 40 people from injury or death.”
“In addition, Chief Hromada and Officer O’Barto also ran into the danger to do their duty. To protect the public with disregard for their own safety,” Bower continued.
“Today there were four heroes, Sgt. Miller, Chief Hromada, Officer O’Barto, and the officer who engaged [the gunman] and killed him,” the district attorney said.
Officials have not yet released the names of the heroic German Township officer or the gunman he fatally shot.
WTAE reported that they had confirmed the gunman was 61-year-old Patrick Shaun Dowdell.
The incident began at about 2 p.m. on Sept. 19, when witnesses told KDKA that they saw a man chasing a woman, waving a gun, at the Masontown Borough Municipal Building.
The building also houses the Fayette County magisterial district judge’s Masontown office, where Dowdell was scheduled to appear the same day.
Bower told reporters that the gunman had been charged with strangulation, aggravated assault, terror threats, and simple assault in a domestic incident that occurred “a few weeks ago.” He said the magistrate was not the man’s target.
The gunman also had a protection order out against him at the time of the incident, the district attorney said.
Another witness, Xuan Sayles, told police that he heard a gunshot and turned and saw the man and woman, and said it appeared that Dowdell’s gun had jammed.
“He was trying to get it to shoot again and it wouldn’t shoot. So when he got it to shoot again, I took cover beside the magistrate [building],” Sayles told KDKA.
Bower said the gunman walked into the building, where as many as 40 people were waiting for appearances before the magistrate, with a pistol in his hand.
He said Sgt. Miller engaged the shooter, and was shot by the gunman. The sergeant was “in good condition” at Ruby Memorial Hospital.
“I saw the cop, he was taking cover behind the vehicle and he said, ‘Stay back,’ but he was shot,” Sayles told KDKA. “I ran over to him, took my shirt off, my tank top first, and wrapped it around his hand. But, he was still bleeding so profusely that I took my other shirt off and wrapped it around his hand and then, I took my belt off and wrapped it around his wrist.”
While that was happening, Dowdell was shooting his way through the lobby of the municipal building.
“The shooter had shot the windows out as I was running to the cop, he was shooting through the glass doors,” Sayles said. “Once he went in, I heard at least 10 shots.”
That’s when German Township Police Chief Dave Hromada, Officer Tom O’Barto, and another officer from their department ran to help. The unnamed officer fatally shot the gunman.
There are witness reports that the woman being chased was the female victim. There are also witness reports that she said the shooter was her husband.
“I ran back down the hallway… I believe there was some officers in there going after the shooter at the time,” Todd Endsley told KDKA. “[I] realized my mom was in the room to my left with three other people and then a woman was laying there on the floor. She just had a small rag at the time, so she was still bleeding.”
He said he took off his belt and used it as a tourniquet on the wounded woman.
“I didn’t even know it was her husband until I was sitting there holding her arm and [I asked what had happened] and she was like ‘it was my husband. This isn’t the first time he tried to kill me,” Endsley recounted the conversation.”
Police refused to share any information about the gunman or his victims, and his connection to the woman, until his next of kin have been notified.
Pennsylvania State Police Lieutenant Steve Dowlin said that nobody has come forward with any cellphone video of the shooting spree, but police want to talk to any as they piece together what happened.
This was the second mass shooting in Fayette County since January, and police thwarted a would-be shooter at Uniontown High school in February, officials said.