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2 dead, 7 injured in Pittsburgh psychiatric clinic shooting

A gunman opened fire at a psychiatric clinic Thursday on the campus of The University of Pittsburgh. WPXI's Rick Earle reports.

Updated at 5:02 p.m. ET: PITTSBURGH -- A gunman opened fire inside a psychiatric clinic in Pittsburgh on Thursday in a shooting that left two people dead, including the gunman, and seven others injured, authorities said.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said a gunman entered the front door about 1:40 p.m. with two semiautomatic handguns and started firing. The gunman was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police, Ravenstahl said at a news conference. Hospital officials said seven people were injured, although at least one of the injuries was not a gunshot wound.  

A man who was in a nearby waiting room when the gunfire erupted said people scrambled to hide and decided they'd rush the shooter if he entered but he never did in the 15 or so minutes the ordeal lasted. Police later reported one of the dead was the gunman, according to NBC News affiliate WXPI.com.

There were no details about the second dead person. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center spokesman Paul Wood said it was unclear whether the injured people were patients, employees or visiting family members.

Among the injured was an officer who had been shot in the leg in the lobby of the clinic and taken to a nearby hospital about 1:45 p.m.

'Hide! Hide!'
Gregory Brant said he was in a waiting room on the first floor of the clinic building when pandemonium broke out.

"We heard a bunch of yelling, some shooting, people yelling, 'Hide! Hide!" he said. "Everyone's yelling, 'Stay down!"'

Brant, 53, and six other people, including a young girl and her parents, barricaded themselves inside the waiting room. But he said they did not feel safe because there were doors with windows along adjacent walls.

"The way the room was arranged, if he (the gunman) had gone to either window and would have seen us in there, he could have done whatever he wanted," Brant said.

The group crouched in a corner, hoping the gunman wouldn't see them as he went past, Brant said. The men in the group decided on the spot that if the gunman entered the room, they would rush him.

"We were kind of sitting ducks," Brant said. "Luckily, he didn't see us in there, and we didn't make eye contact with him."

Neighboring buildings were placed on lockdown after gunfire erupted near the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Oakland, a neighborhood east of downtown Pittsburgh.

Wood said media reports about a possible second armed suspect and a hostage situation at the clinic or at UPMC Presbyterian hospital were unfounded. "There was a rumor out there that there was a second gunman. That, we believe, was never true," Wood said.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Police gather on DeSoto street near the front entrance to the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic on the University of Pittsburgh campus, on Thursday in Pittsburgh.

A SWAT team was on the scene. A street was blocked off, and the area thronged with police. While most students were away on spring break, offices and buildings have been open.

Tweets from the UPMC said injured people were being treated there. "Police have told us there were 9 total victims at WPIC/Western Psych. 2 of whom have been confirmed dead. 7 being treated at UPMC Presby,’’ UPMC officials posted on the hospital's Twitter feed.

Hospital officials said two patients were in intensive care, two were released and three were being admitted. All were expected to survive.

'Terribly sad'
Pete Finelli, who lives two blocks from the clinic and once worked there as a student nursing assistant, said security guards are always at the part of the building where it the shooting is believed to have occurred, on the ground floor.

Patient rooms are on the upper floors, he said, but anyone on the first floor would have to be someone being either admitted or discharged.

"The only place a person would be on the first floor is the emergency room," he said.

Lawton Snyder, executive director of Pitt's Eye and Ear Foundation, said he and two other staffers were locked down about a block away, in a building that connects to the clinic. He said it was unnerving.

"Obviously I'm terribly sad for those injured. We're just hoping everybody's OK and things are resolved quickly and that they can apprehend those who are responsible," he said.

The clinic describes itself on its website as a top academic-based psychiatric care center. The University of Pittsburgh's Psychiatry Department is on the campus.

The Associated Press contribued to this report.

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