Bridgeport Put On Alert in Shooting

BRIDGEPORT – Scrawled on the exterior of a trailer in Bridgeport is a variation of the following phrase, in Latin: “Abandon hope all ye who enter this place.”

The trailer belonged to Thomas Piccard, the man police killed Wednesday after he fired more than 20 shots into the Federal Building and the YWCA in Wheeling. A federal law enforcement official confirmed the message on his trailer to The Intelligencer.

Piccard, a former Wheeling police officer who resigned in July 2000, used an assault rifle and a handgun in the mid-afternoon shooting. Three federal court security officers received minor injuries during the attack consistent with shattered glass.

While authorities in Wheeling worked throughout the evening to collect evidence and search for a possible motive, residents in the Bridgeport neighborhood where Piccard lived were evacuated while a bomb squad from Allegheny County, Pa., searched Piccard’s home.

Numerous residents of Presidential Estates, a community across U.S. 40 from Bridgeport High School, said they were evacuated from the area just before 5 p.m. Wednesday, about two hours after the shooting occurred.

One resident said he was watching television when a call from “Red Alert” came across his caller identification.

“I thought it was a telemarketer,” he said.

The call, however, was an automated notification telling residents they needed to evacuate immediately. Residents were not told why they were being evacuated or given a specific location to which to relocate.

The resident noted there is only one way in and out of the housing addition – a bridge on Brockview Drive over Wheeling Creek.

Many residents drove their vehicles to the high school parking lot as the Allegeheny County Bomb Squad and FBI searched Piccard’s home. Access to the addition was limited, with a barricade of emergency vehicles limiting access at the Adams Drive entrance. A resident said Piccard lived on Johnson Street in the middle of the addition.

FBI Special Agent Bob Johnson said the bomb squad was called in as a precautionary measure.

People still waiting at the high school just after 8 p.m. said they were told the search would take another hour – unless officers found something.

“They said then it could be three or four hours,” a resident said.