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Weird News

News of the weird from all over Western Pennsylvania

Citing “safety concerns,” the Penn Hills School District has banned hoodies. Superintendent Nancy Hines told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “The district’s larger goal is to maintain safety and to promote a focused learning environment,” a goal somehow thwarted by sweatshirts with added pieces of cloth that can be pulled over the head in case of rain or cold. School-board member Erin Vecchio added, “I’ve had cops tell me they couldn’t identify kids because they had their hoodies closed.” Which is relevant because going to school in Penn Hills is now like being in a continual police lineup or something? In fairness, the school district has had a brush with potentially shady activity: In a report last May, the state auditor general found a “long-term lack of oversight” of the district, “permitted stunning financial mismanagement and illogical business decisions resulting in an outstanding debt of $167 million and multiple criminal investigations.” The auditor says a former business manager sucked money out of the district for years, in possibly illegal ways, as the school board and administrators “turned a blind eye.” Perhaps if the employee had been wearing a hoodie, school officials could have identified him as a criminal.

Swissvale Police Chief Greg Geppert saw a Facebook post he disagreed with, and he wants an official investigation into it. Saying that she was in tears, Dapree Thompson, a 911 dispatcher for Allegheny County, posted about the recent deaths of black men at the hands of police. Thompson implored “Blue Lives Matter” supporters to “imagine being afraid not because of the job one chose or the lifestyle others may have, but simply because he was born with brown, beautiful skin.” She added, “See here’s the difference, you[’re] afraid to do your job the[n] quit. You want to help society, then do the right thing.” Geppert inferred that Thompson might sabotage a 911 response out of spite for the police, telling WTAE, “When somebody has these feelings about the police, are the officers going to get that information and the attention they should have?” Matt Brown, the county’s chief of emergency services, stated that dispatchers are trained to put aside personal feelings in their work and there is no evidence a dispatcher has broken that standard recently. Still, Geppert (the only police chief in Allegheny County making this an issue to the media) is calling for an investigation into just how angry Thompson is or something. 

“OFFICE OF PUBLIC ART SEEKS KLINGON, ELVISH, OR DOTHRAKI SPEAKER,” announced a recent Craigslist post. When the Wizard World convention comes to Pittsburgh in November, the office wants to offer walking tours of Downtown art landmarks in the three fictional languages, created for Star Trek, the fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien and HBO’s Game of Thrones respectively. An art expert would accompany the nerd-for-hire, who would translate information like “Sculptor James Simon created these 15-foot musicians as a tribute to Pittsburgh’s music scene” into his or her fantastical language of study. The group’s director told the Trib he’s received one application, from a man in the Washington, D.C., area who has translated Shakespeare plays into Klingon.

On his way to allegedly sell a stolen rifle at a flea market, Thomas J. Leapline probably should have taken into account the fact that a man toting a gun in public might upset some people. With the rifle uncased, Leapline stopped by a supermarket in Fayette County en route to the Laurel Mall market where he hoped to sell the rifle to a gun dealer, police told the Herald-Standard of Uniontown. Onlookers called police, who cleared 150 people out of the grocery store and flea market, and detained Leapline. They say they deduced that the gun had been stolen at some point.

Michael Deeds, of Uniontown, has been arrested in connection with a series of arson fires. He’s accused of setting four fires in the town. While reporting on the arrest, WPXI found footage from 2013 of Deeds claiming to have helped save an 80-year-old woman from a burning home (one of the locations he’s now accused of igniting). “I seen the flame and called 911 on my iPhone,” Deeds told station reporters. “So when I heard her holler ‘help,’ I figured I’d go in and save her and then they [firefighters] did.” 

A 30-year-old woman in Woodward Township, Clinton County, answered a knock on her door and found Patrick R. Marsh standing naked with his genitals in his hands, police told In the words of the State Police report, Marsh, 59, had come over “in an attempt to obtain courtship,” but was denied and charged with indecent exposure.

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