by David Croyle
State and local police held a news conference yesterday with the District Attorney and Coroner’s office, all pleading for information on a street brawl that claimed the life of a Chicora man.
James Sullivan, 39, died in the early hours of Sunday, March 17, as a result of blunt force trauma to the head when a physical altercation that took place on Montieth Street.
Although evading specific questions by the media, Kittanning Police Chief Ed Cassesse described the event.
“There was a fight on Montieth Street around 2AM Sunday morning. An individual was found lying in the street with injuries. We were told that there were several fights including this particular one – a large gathering – a crowd of perhaps 30 to 40 people. The actor was treated at the scene and transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead from injuries that we won’t discuss at this time.”
Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi confirmed that no suspects have yet been identified.
“We do not have a suspect as such. We are continuing the investigation. We are attempting to gather information. We do know from the investigation that there were a number of fights going on at various points in time. We’re trying to identify the individuals involved in those fights.”
No surveillance footage has been discovered, but Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Steve Ignatz said he believes the incident could have been recorded on a cell phone or other personal media device.
“There’s a possibility that people may have recorded or taken pictures of the events that went on out in the street that night. We’re hoping for someone to come forward with that information. If they have pictures, or have video somehow captured, if they could provide it to us, it would be immensely helpful in this investigation.”
Ignatz said they have had many leads from postings on social media pages, but when they investigated it, it was exaggerated or inaccurate.
“There have been a lot of things that we have come across in social media that we have been made aware of, and we are in the process of running those leads down,” Ignatz added.
Andreassi said the investigation began at 3AM Sunday and has literally continued through yesterday afternoon. He said there were many versions of the stories heard throughout the investigation.
“Conflicting stories, some stories that cross over with each other, and that is what we are trying to do – corroborate the bits and pieces that we do have,” Andreassi said. “We know there are Facebook posts. There are Twitter posts. We know there are people out there that do have information. We are asking them to contact us directly rather than have us fish through social media.”
Andreassi appealed to the public to help solve piece together details of the incident.
“We believe that there are a number of individuals who were at the bar that evening who were in the street that evening who may have witnessed pieces of the events that we feel may be relevant to the investigation that is currently ongoing. We are asking them to contact either the Kittanning Borough Police or the Kittanning barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police.”
While bar owner Chris Bowers denied any of the events took place in the Wick City Saloon, Andreassi said that the bar was the point of origination.
“All of the individuals we have interviewed so far were in the (Wick City Saloon) bar at one time or another. We received information that part of a conversation or disagreement began inside the bar environs, but the incident itself and the activities have all occurred outside the bar, either in the parking lot area or on the street.”
Cassesse denied concerns that the bar was a “nuisance bar” and clarified that it attracts a younger crowd.
“It’s kinda the mainstay bar of the area. It’s where the younger crowd goes now, but it’s not a nuisance bar.”
The incident has raised safety concerns by Kittanning residents who wonder if this type of violence will now become commonplace. Cassesse called it an isolated case.
“It’s a tragic thing that has happened. It is not an everyday occurrence for the area.”
Anyone with information regarding this incident may call the Kittanning barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police at 724-543-2011.