By Amelia Atkins
INDIANA – The party at Carriage House Apartments was winding down at about 1:45 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3, the start of Labor Day weekend. More than 50 people, many of them students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, were packed in the party’s second-floor apartment. More congregated outside the building.
That’s where Andre S. Arrington, 19, an IUP criminology major from Erie, was helping an intoxicated friend as they prepared to head home for the night, he said. Then, they heard the gunshots.
Arrington recalled hearing about 30 shots. Police reported about 40. The crowd stampeded.
As he and his friend ran, too, Arrington said he felt a blow.
“It was a force like I had got punched hard in my left shoulder from behind,” Arrington said in a Sept. 14 interview at his home on Poplar Avenue. “I have a high pain tolerance, so I ignored it and kept running.”
He crossed the intersection at 13th Street and Oakland Avenue. At the brick-and-stone IUP archway caddy-corner to Carriage House, he touched his arm. He felt blood.
“It was everywhere,” Arrington said. “I had been drinking, so my blood was thin. That was when I realized one of the bullets hit me.”
About 10 minutes later, police arrived. A helicopter took him to a hospital in Pittsburgh. He was released later that weekend.
Arrington recalled the trauma calmly, matter-of-fact. Like he is experienced at this.
“I grew up in the ‘hood in Erie, Pa.,” Arrington said. “This is my second time being shot.”
Arrington recounted his first gunshot wounds as a 15-year-old at school shortly after classes had let out for the day. Arrington said he saw a crowd on school grounds, and he moved toward it.
“It was a couple guys I had problems with in the past,” Arrington said. “They kept waving the gun at me to try to make me scared. But I was tough back then and told them they were gonna have to use it.”
He was shot four times point-blank with a .22 caliber handgun. A surgeon removed the bullets by opening him up from his rib cage to his lower abdomen.
Arrington removed his shirt to show his wounds, old and new. The Carriage House scar is fresh and raw, the older wounds less obvious.
Arrington expressed no criticism about guns. He keeps a shotgun at his place on Poplar, he said. He recited an NRA mantra.
“I don’t think guns are a problem,” Arrington said. “They’re a necessity. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
SINCE THE SHOOTING, the Carriage House Apartments has made changes, a spokeswoman said. The apartment complex adjusted lighting, restricted access to the building, limited entry by non-residents, and took other measures.
“We made the changes to make sure this stays a safe environment to live in,” Michelle Matko, director of resident services, said Sept. 22 at the Carriage House office. “So far, it has been effective.”
Arrington said he has recovered quickly. He worked out at the gym, drank protein and healed physically within about a week, he said.
“The doctor was surprised at how fast I healed,” Arrington said.
Since his release from the Pittsburgh hospital, Arrington said he has not spoken to police. Police have reported no suspects and no arrests.
Amelia Atkins, a sophomore communications media major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is from Pittsburgh.