Building’s neighbors feel safe

WHEELING – Despite Wednesday’s shootout in a parking lot across from the Federal Building on Chapline Street, neighborhood residents remain confident they are safe.

Former police officer Thomas Piccard died of a gunshot wound after he fired shots from a handgun and an assault rifle into the front of the Federal Building on Chapline Street.

Lori Jones, director of the nearby Wheeling YWCA, said she felt more safe than she had prior to the incident.

“I feel more safe after seeing the quick response time by local law enforcement,” she said. “They were here in minutes.”

Jones said her building is safe because of its location.

“This is the safest neighborhood in the city,” she said. “The police department is right down the street and the Federal Building is right across the street.”

Brian and Ginny Gessler, owners of Laupp Florist next door to the YWCA, said Wednesday’s shooting does not change their perspective on safety.

“We have been in this building for 13 years without a problem,” Brian Gessler said. “That shooting was just a fluke incident.”

Ginny Gessler wound up with a bird’s eye view of the shooting.

“I heard the first two pops and went to a rear window overlooking the parking lot below to see what was going on,” she said. “When I saw the guy start shooting at the Federal Building, I locked the front door and called 911. They didn’t answer, but police units responded almost immediately.”

Glen Burton, safety director at the HRC Building at 11th and Chapline streets, said he has not changed his thinking on safety issues in the neighborhood. The building houses an adult day care center caring for eight to 12 people each day and has a staff of about 30 people.

“We have an incident reaction lockdown procedure in place and a good evacuation plan in the event of an emergency,” he said. “We locked the building down yesterday as soon as we heard the shots.”