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DA Zappala tours Kennywood to ensure safety efforts ahead of opening weekend

DA tours Kennywood to ensure safety before opening weekend
DA tours Kennywood to ensure safety before opening weekend 02:23

WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. (KDKA) -- This weekend Kennywood will open its gates for its 126th season, but Allegheny County's district attorney said he wanted to make sure all the proper safety protocols were in place before opening day so everyone stays safe.

District Attorney Stephen Zappala walked through Kennywood in West Mifflin Thursday to check out the latest security upgrades.

They're steps taken after his office and state police worked together to ensure safety at the park last year, and came amid concerns following a shooting in the fall of 2022 that injured three, and a threat from the DA to block opening day.

This year, he said he's confident the park is more than prepared to keep everyone secure.

"I think it's going to be a good summer," Zappala said.

He said the Kennywood police chief told him they have 100 officers when they're fully staffed and another 40 security guards who are licensed to carry weapons.

"Unfortunately, because of the number of people that come into an area, you can never bet 100 percent, but I like it. I like our odds," Zappala said.

The park also beefed up additional measures it took in 2023.

"There's been a tremendous amount of investment in personnel, equipment, technology, and just attention," Zappala said. 

Between the two years, the park improved fencing, implemented a chaperone policy and increased police presence. It also installed new cameras with AI technology.

"If you come close to the perimeter, the technology will pick you up. If you throw something out of a car along the perimeter, something will pick that up, AI will pick that up," Zappala said.

Kennywood was credited for helping law enforcement to catch four teens who tried to get into the park on the last opening day, and the DA said will continue to prevent any incidents this season, and help the park succeed.

"This is a destination point for a lot of people in Western Pennsylvania and certainly the eastern United States, and we're proud of it. We want to keep it that way," Zappala said.

KDKA-TV's Lauren Linder reached out to Kennywood for an interview or statement. Instead, the park directed her to the DA's office. 

3 injured during shooting at Kennywood's Phantom Fall Fest

A night of fake scares turned into real fear as a shooting sent parkgoers scrambling the night of September 24, 2022.

Three people were injured in a shooting at Kennywood Park in 2022. KDKA Photojournalist Bryce Lutz

A total of three people were shot. Two 15-year-old boys and a 39-year old were all treated for non-life threatening injuries. Witnesses reported two groups of young people involved in a fight.  

A gun was recovered from the park and was traced back to being stolen from a vehicle in Ohio. 

One of the 15-year-old boys who was shot was charged in connection with the shooting, but those charges were dismissed during a preliminary hearing.

Detectives at the time said they believe a feud between two groups of teens from different parts of the area is what ultimately sparked the gunfire.     

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