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Pittsburgh Police Step Up Patrols At Churches Following Threats

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Pittsburgh Police are stepping up patrols at churches after threats this weekend.

Pittsburgh Police are working with the FBI to investigate after police were dispatched to two separate Catholic churches Sunday morning.

Police say they had to evacuate St. John's Catholic Church along Saline Street in the city's Greenfield neighborhood just before noon. Police say a man made threats to the church, its congregants and himself. He also allegedly told officers he had multiple firearms.

St. John's Catholic Church incident
(Photo Credit: Tim Lawson/KDKA Photojournalist)

Officers responded quickly and safely moved all of the people out of the church and checked the area for any threats. Even though the caller reported multiple firearms, police discovered no credible threat inside the church. As of Monday evening, no arrests have been made, but police say they will continue to investigate.

Meanwhile, right around the same time, police also launched an investigation at St. George's Ukrainian Catholic Church in the city's Brighton Heights neighborhood.

St. George's Ukrainian Catholic Church
(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Brian Smithmyer)

Public Safety officials say parishioners there were concerned when they saw a congregant who was openly carrying a gun on his hip during the service.

Police spoke with the man, who had a concealed carry permit, and the gun was not reported stolen. All of his information was confirmed, and it was determined that he had not done anything illegal. The firearm was eventually returned to him.

"Pittsburgh Public Safety takes all threats of violence or terrorism extremely seriously. Pittsburgh Police Intelligence Unit detectives are working closely with our federal partners within FBI Pittsburgh, sharing information and intelligence to determine the origin of the threats. In the meantime, we are reassured that in one instance, citizens called Police when they observed suspicious behavior. We encourage everyone to adhere to the tenet, 'if you see something, say something.' It is only by working together that we can keep our communities safe," said Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich in a statement.

While police have added extra patrols and are taking additional precautions to safeguard the two churches and all houses of worship, the bureau says it doesn't discuss specific operational details.

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