BROOKVILLE — Following a nine-hour standoff that began Sunday night, Pennsylvania State Police arrested John Wayne Kunselman, 46, of Brookville and charged him with terroristic threats with intent to terrorize another, recklessly endangering another person, criminal trespass/simple trespass and harassment. He is being held in the Jefferson County Jail on $50,000 bail.
Brookville Borough police were first alerted to Kunselman at 1:30 p.m. Sunday when they responded to a call on Short Street involving a man with a rifle who was threatening to harm himself. The man fled the scene before police arrived. At 3:20 p.m. police sent out an alert for Kunselman.
According to a family member, the initial disturbance was the result an argument with his wife. After he fled, police went to the home of Kunselman’s cousin, Didi Wazelle. She says they know he has come to her before in times of distress. She had not seen or heard from him at the time but later Sunday, he arrived outside her house with his gun, asking to be let inside.
“I had already asked his mom what she wanted me to do if he showed up, and she said call the cops,” Wazelle said.
She said his mom wanted him to get the help he needed. Wazelle called the police before opening her door to him. Once he was inside, she said she got him to put his gun down. She tried to talk with him, but said he quickly realized that she had the police on the phone. At this point she said they began struggling for the gun.
“He told me I should leave so he didn’t have to hurt me, so I ran out the front door straight to a cop,” Wazelle said.
Once outside, she told the police that Kunselman was in her house and armed with his rifle.
The official call went out at 9 p.m. Brookville and Pine Creek Volunteer Fire companies were dispatched to block off Evans Street and all the roads leading to it. Brookville and state police secured the perimeter around the house to make sure Kunselman didn’t leave the property. As the night wore on, more police were brought in.
The state police Special Emergency Response Team, or SERT, arrived in vans with specialized equipment. It took hours just for all the necessary police to arrive on scene. The SERT teams cover a wide area and often have to travel from far distances. Some of the ones called in to help in Brookville were brought in from Philadelphia. Upwards of 50 police officers arrived before the night was finished.
Once all the officers were in place the police began to engage Kunselman from the street. After some time when he did not come out to police, other tactics were tried. An armored skidsteer was used to take off a screen door and to break a side window. Once it had its arm positioned inside the window the team again began to talk to Kunselman.
The standoff came to an end at 6 a.m. when after some final words from the negotiator Kunseman opened the door and peacefully left the house. He was immediately surrounded by the tactical team that had been in position.
Borough Police Chief Vince Markle said both Brookville and Pine Creek Fire companies did an excellent job controlling traffic during the situation. Roads were closed to protect citizens during the standoff. He also noted that no law enforcement nor Kunselman were injured in the standoff. Also helping on scene was the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. Markle said everyone worked together as a team and noted that the state police did an “outstanding job.”
Kunselman is scheduled for a preliminary hearing at 9:45 a.m. June 11 before District Judge Gregory Bazylak.
BROOKVILLE — Nearly 300 second-graders enjoyed a fun day at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds last Thursday when Penn State Progressive Agriculture presented safety days.
The activities opened with Amanda Kanouff, 4-H Youth educator for Penn State Extension, welcoming the students, their teachers and other visitors. She said this year is the 25th anniversary of Safety Day presentations across the United States.
Kanouff introduced state Rep. Cris Dush, who told the second-graders that they would have a lot of fun during the day, and would also learn a lot to help them in the future. “Over 1 million kids have done this” during the past 25 years, he said. “You are going to have the chance to learn something new, and I know you are going to have a great time.
Throughout the day students visited a variety of stations, learning about everything from what to do if they found a gun on the ground to feeding a 2-week-old calf.
Second-graders had a chance to interact in several of the stations, with one of their favorites being the 9-1-1 simulator. As they were learning how to make a phone call to report an emergency, they were told that the more information they could provide, the more it would help the police. “You are the eyes and ears of the police in an emergency,” Chris Clark, deputy director of Jefferson County’s 911 Operations and Technology, told them.
Clark also told the youngsters never to make prank calls to 9-1-1. “We have ways of figuring out where you are,” he said, telling how they were able to find a second-grader in Brockway who had been making prank calls to 9-1-1 going to and from school.
“The principal and police found him on his bus. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in his shoes when he got home that night and had to tell his mother. I’ll tell you a secret,” Clark said. “I’m more afraid of my mother than I am of the police.”
He also told the students that they have to be careful if they are using an old cell phone just to play games. “9-1-1 is the Universal way to call for help,” Clark said, and even “deactivated cell phones can still call 9-1-1.”
The students were divided into two groups for lunch. While half the classes enjoyed pizza, fruit, cookies and milk, the other half attended a presentation by Kaely Roen and Nate Weyandt, Penn State DuBois wildlife technicians.
“We want to show you how to be safe and still have fun outdoors,” they said. “Animals are more scared of you and will probably run and hide, unless it feels it needs to defend itself.”
During their presentation they showed animal skulls, talons, elk antlers, a mounted owl and a mounted coyote. They also played a safe and unsafe game, asking the second-graders if one of several activities, such as sharing their food with a wild animal, was safe or unsafe.
Brockway FFA students showed some of their farm animals to teach the second-graders another aspect of animal safety. Kyler Patton had his miniature donkey, Jasper, who is almost 3 years old; Weston Smith talked about his 3-week-old Holstein heifer calf; and Justin Smith showed his 4-month-old pig.
Other presentations included hidden hazards, bike safety, safe digging, electrical safety, good touch/bad touch, firearm safety, poison lookalikes, dog safety, ticks and lyme disease, poisonous plants, smoking education, Drug K-9 and bully bingo.
Students attending this year’s safety day were from Brookville, Brockway and C. G. Johnson in Reynoldsville.
Besides the students, the teachers also enjoyed the day at the fairgrounds. Mrs. Wise, a second-grade teacher from Brockway, said she has been going to the safety day programs for 15 years. “It gets better every year,” she said. “It was so nice to have Rep. Dush here, because he cares.”
Wise said her daughter participated in the safety day activities when she was in second grade. “She is a senior in high school and still wears her safety day shirt,” she said.
Kanouff said the day was a great success. “Pam (Passmore) and I are very thankful for the community organizations and volunteers who took time out of their busy schedule to work with our second grade guests at Safety Day. Their presentations were excellent and full of valuable information that we hope our youngsters will take home and share with their families and apply to their own life experiences.
“We also thank Representative Cris Dush who came out to spend some time at our event and spoke at our program opening.”
Kanouff said she wanted to give “a very big thank you to those who worked behind the scenes and provided support for the event —the planning committee, kitchen crew, photographers, the Jefferson County Fair Authority, and setup/cleanup crews. We couldn’t have had such a wonderful day without so much community support!”
BROOKVILLE — As preliminary numbers from state and federal sources are starting to come in, Ellen Neyman, business administrator for the Brookville School District, said she sees no significant changes from what has been projected in the district’s proposed budget for the 2019-2020 school year.
Neyman gave an update on revenues and expenses to the school board at Monday night’s work session.
She said the district has received the homestead/farmstead “local tax relief that comes from the gaming money. It will be about $713,761.41. This is only $109 different from what we had estimated.” Neyman said there are almost “3,600 qualified properties in the district and that divides out to about $200 savings per property. Last year it was $199.96, again, very, very similar amounts.”
Neyman said the district has also received its update “on basic ed funding. We are showing about $13,000 less than previously estimated, so again a very close ballpark with the number we are working with. It is still an estimate until the state budget is passed.”
On the expense side of the budget, numbers “are very similar to what we had budgeted. Our administrative team is to be commended. They don’t allow waste. Anywhere they can pinch a dollar they do, working hard to keep those budgets in line.”
She recommends that the board adopt the budget, which will not include a tax increase, at the June 17 meeting.
The board also debated several ideas during the evening.
A lengthy discussion was held on the Rauland System, which is now being installed in the high school and Hickory Grove. The debate centered around whether the system, a communication system which would allow emergency procedures to be put into action in all the schools with the touch of one button, should also be installed in the Pinecreek and Northside schools.
Board president Don Gill explained that since the district did not receive a grant to install the second part of the system, the board had to decide whether to install the system now or wait and apply for another grant to help fund the project.
Board member Rick Ortz said he thinks “we need a lot more discussion. Right now I couldn’t vote on it, not knowing what we are thinking about in the future” in regards to possible consolidation of the schools. “If we are going to consolidate I think losing that money to put that system into those two schools is wasted money.”
Several members said they think the system should be installed at Northside and Pinecreek, but they would like to see how it is working at the high school and Hickory Grove before a decision is made. “We need to make sure it is really something we find of value,” Carol Schindler said.
Matt Simmons, director of technology, said the system should be up and running within a couple weeks. If the board votes to install it in the other schools, the work could be completed during the summer months.
Kerith Strano Taylor said she thinks “we should invest the money. The system gives immediate access to all our buildings and if something happens we are not trying to figure out who’s on the phone to call somebody else. The total cost is $23,200, while it’s not nothing, I don’t want to be in a position where something happens in one school and we’re scrambling. It has to be in all the buildings for the information to work.”
Fred Park said he agreed. “Those missing components are too important not to have. I don’t believe it can wait; it needs to be done now.”
In other discussions:
• Superintendent Robin Fillman thanked student representative Brynn Afton for her “input and leadership on the board” during the past year.
• the board agreed to listen to a presentation from Guaranteed Clean Energy regarding ways to reduce energy bills in an effort to become more educated about options that might be available to the district.
• the board tabled any discussion on board members or a committee participating in job interviews. The discussion will be resumed after Erich May assumes his duties as the district’s new superintendent in July.
The Brookville Area School Board will meet in regular session at 7 p.m. next Monday, May 20, at 7 p.m. in the LGI room at Hickory Grove.