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Noise dispute leads to killings

on November 08, 2013 10:29 AM

GREENSBURG (AP) — A western Pennsylvania man who shot his upstairs neighbors to death before killing himself at an apartment complex was apparently provoked by an ongoing dispute over noise, state police said.

The gunman, Philip Cancilla, 51, was found dead about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in his unit in a sprawling nine-building apartment complex in Hempfield Township.

On Thursday, state police held a news conference at their barracks in nearby Greensburg to detail the carnage and identify Cancilla’s victims.

The gunman ambushed Christina White, 23, and Timothy Reffner, 30, about 7 a.m. Wednesday as they carried laundry out of the apartment they shared, intending to wash it at a relative’s home, police said. Cancilla chased the couple and shot both in a nearby parking lot, Trooper Stephen Limani said.

Autopsies determined White was shot five times and Reffner six times, all in the head and back. Cancilla used two handguns, .22- and .45-caliber, both registered to him, Limani said.

Police locked down the complex for about seven hours, searching for the gunman. Those restrictions were lifted after Cancilla was found dead.

Inside his apartment was short note that read, “Can only be provoked so long before exploding,” Limani said.

Police believe that referred to an ongoing feud between Cancilla and the couple, who had complained to the apartment’s management about one another. Cancilla, in particular, had complained about noise and music coming from the couple’s apartment above his.

“It’s a shame that two young, productive citizens tragically lost their lives over something like this,” Westmoreland County Coroner Ken Bacha said.

White had worked since August as a guard at the county prison. Reffner’s family told authorities he was an Army veteran who recently returned from an 18-month tour of duty in Iraq, Bacha said.

Cancilla’s background wasn’t immediately known. Police said he had no serious criminal history, and court documents show only that he pleaded guilty to running a red light last month and paid a small fine.

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