Police: Driver fired shots from car

June 8, 2014
Gregory J. Fino

South Strabane Township police arrested a township man early Sunday for reportedly firing shots from his car in a residential neighborhood, although he told officers he thought it was a rural area.

Gregory J. Fino, 33, of 1040 Magnolia Drive, was arrested after police received at least two reports from 911 dispatch of shots being fired just before 4 a.m.

The first report came in as shots being fired in the 1600 block of Donnan Avenue. Minutes later, a second caller reported hearing shots fired two blocks away in the 100 block of Patten Avenue.

Sgt. Drew Hilk arrived in the area and started searching Donnan, Patten and surrounding streets. As he made the right turn from Patten to North Main, he heard at least three shots being fired. The shots appeared to have been coming from a vehicle stopped in the northbound lane of North Main at Donnan.

The vehicle then pulled away as Hilk started to follow it in his cruiser. It turned onto Maple Avenue and then Glenn Avenue as the driver accelerated rapidly, police said. The vehicle continued at a high speed, going through two more stop signs before turning right onto Sunset Boulevard and turn onto Clearfield Avenue.

Hilk said he was waiting for the vehicle on Sunset when it turned from Clearfield onto Shadyside Avenue and right on Hillcrest Avenue where a Washington police car was waiting with emergency overhead lights activated. Police said the vehicle continued another quarter mile before stopping.

Police executed a felony stop and took Fino into custody. Through the open door of the vehicle, police could see numerous shell casings from a .380-caliber rifle on the floor. An automatic handgun was between the seats and rifle magazines were on the passenger seat, arranged in an orderly manner in such a way to facilitate easy reloading, police said. An automatic rifle was found resting against the rear of the front seat, pointing to the passenger side.

Police seized a Ruger rifle modified with a scope and mounted light as well as a Sig Sauer 9 mm with a fully loaded magazine. The Ruger had a partially loaded magazine with a live round in the chamber, police said.

Fino reportedly told Hilk he was testing his weapons and wasn’t shooting at anything specific. He also told the sergeant he chose the area because it was rural and close to his house. The area where the shots fired is residential with numerous homes in close proximity.

Police found damage, mostly to mailboxes, in the 1400 block of North Main, 100 block of Patten, 200 block of Clearfield and 1600 block of Donnan. Shell casings were found on the pavement near one mailbox. There have been no reports of houses being hit. Residents who found damage are asked to call police at 724-225-8111.

Inside Fino’s car, police found several weapons, including a rifle.

Fino was arraigned before District Judge Ethan Ward on charges of reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, reckless driving and stop sign violations. He was placed in Washington County jail on $100,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is set for June 19 before District Judge Weller.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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