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State College Police Offer New Details On Fatal Shooting That Began At P.J. Harrigan's

John Gardner at podium
Min Xian

State College police released new details about the homicides on Jan. 24 that left three victims and the gunman dead, including that the shooter had a blood alcohol level of 0.223 percent. That's nearly three times the standard legal limit for driving in the United States.

Police said their investigation into the incident that started at P.J. Harrigan's Bar & Grill at the Ramada Conference Center on South Atherton Street is now closed. 

Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna said nothing was discovered by police to explain what occurred.

“It is a mass shooting with absolutely no sense to it at all,” he said. 

Police responded to the shooting at about 10:15 p.m. According to the report, Jordan Witmer left the bar to use the bathroom downstairs. When he returned, he was met by Nicole Abrino, and they were going to leave. Police said witnesses' accounts of what happened vary in some details. But, they believe Witmer shot Abrino, then fatally shot Dean Beachy and Steven Beachy. Dean Beachy was an auctioneer who was in town with his son, Steven, who died from his injuries the next day.

According to the report, three other people who were there either fled or hid.

According to police, there is no evidence that there had been an argument between Witmer and Abrino or that Dean or Steven Beachy had gotten involved in an argument. 

Witmer then fled the bar, driving to the Tussey Lane area, where he fatally shot 82-year-old George McCormick. Police report that the investigation confirmed Witmer did not have any relationship with the McCormicks. "It is still believed that Witmer randomly chose their house after he crashed his vehicle nearby," the report says.

Witmer then fatally shot himself. Nicole Abrino survived.

Cantorna said Abrino has undergone at least 10 surgeries and a bullet is lodged in her spine.

“Her recovery’s ongoing, and she’s going to have to deal with these injuries for the rest of her life,” he said. “It will be some time before she returns to any type of shape to be able to return to work.”

He said she wanted to thank friends, family and the public for their help and support.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover her medical costs.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.
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