Tri County Report For June 19th, 2018

A New Castle family is safe after escaping an early morning fire at their home Monday.  Fire crews say they were called to the County Line Road home and found the front charred by flames.  During the fire fight, an energized powerline fell in the front yard making the situation even more dangerous for first responders.  No one was hurt.  There’s no word on a cause.

A West Middlesex man is facing charges after investigators say he was involved in a violent struggle with Hermitage police officers. Yesterday morning around 4:30 police stopped 38-year-old Justin Kirkwood, who was in a disabled truck on the Shenango Valley Freeway near Hermitage Road. Police said the truck had run over a curb and was stuck. Police believe Kirkwoord was under the influence and when they tried to arrest Kirkwood a scuffle ensued.  WKBN-TV reports Kirkwood tried to get one of the officers gun. He faces a number of charges and is in the Mercer County Jail on 250 thousand dollars bond.

An advocacy group is taking Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala to task for actions they say “criminalize” the use of condoms.  The Sex Workers Outreach Project claims local law enforcement and other DA’s Office are citing the possession of condoms by sex workers as evidence as intent to engage in criminal activities.  SWOP says that action targets victims of the sex trade, and want more emphasis placed on human traffickers pushing them into that lifestyle.

An Allegheny County police chief is charged for suspicion of DWI in North Carolina after an incident last week.  Investigators say Scott Township’s Chief James Secreet was driving a motorcycle when North Carolina Highway Patrol stopped him for a lane violation Thursday evening.  Troopers say Secreet was taken to Cumberland County Jail after showing signs of impairment.

An elderly Butler County woman died Sunday following a motor vehicle accident. According to Inside Butler County 90 year old Olga Kocon, of Saxonburg, died at a hospital on Sunday. She was a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in a crash on Friday in New Kensington. Police said the driver, Jean Armany was traveling southbound on Coxomb Hill Road when she pulled off onto the berm of the road and then attempted to make a U-turn and was struck by an oncoming car. The driver of the other car was not hurt.

At least a dozen Washington Health System employees are suspended after an investigation into accessing patient records.  Investigators say they discovered the employees were looking at the records of one or two people involved in a deadly wreck that killed a woman at a W-H-S building.  Pending the outcome of the investigation, the employees could be fired.

Earlier this year, a number of hearings were held at the State Capitol on ways to improve gun safety in Pennsylvania. An Advocacy group, Moms Demand Action was  at the State Capitol yesterday meeting with members of the House Judiciary Committee and urging them to pass House Bill 2060. The bi-partisan bill would give those found guilty of domestic abuse 48 hours to give up all firearms in their possession. It’s similar to a bill that unanimously passed the Senate in March. The House Judiciary Committee will vote on that bill some time today.

State Police have identified the suspect shot by troopers Sunday afternoon in Fayette County.  Officials say troopers confronted 29-year-old Kenneth Shaffer as he was walking along Hopwood Fairchance Road with a large saw blade in hand.  Troopers shot the suspect once in the chest when he continued to advance on them with his weapon brandished.  Shaffer remains in the hospital in critical condition.

A House Finance subcommittee has been examining local tax issues and the latest hearing focused on local property taxes and the reassessment process. Indiana County Commissioner Rodney Ruddock told lawmakers that they need to understand above all else – the local property tax system is unfair and outdated, and he says this isn’t just a school district issue. Counties, townships and boroughs all rely on property taxes and struggle with the assessments and collections…