An illegal alien previously arrested on a domestic dispute but not deported is accused of shooting dead three men outside a bar in Altoona, Pa., after telling police he had been experiencing blackouts.
Miguell A. Padilla, 25, called police after the shooting and said he “believed he had hurt somebody but had been having blackouts,” the Blair Country district attorney said yesterday.
He was caught shortly after Sunday’s shooting and charged with three counts each of criminal homicide, aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person, as well as one count of illegal possession of a handgun. He was ordered held without bail.
Police and city officials in Altoona believe the case may be the first-ever triple homicide in the central Pennsylvania town of 50,000, located about 85 miles east of Pittsburgh.
The shooting occurred just before 2 a.m. Sunday after Padilla and two companions tried to enter the bar in the United Veterans Association Club in downtown Altoona, a 69-year-old institution known as a regular site for wedding receptions and reunions.
After Padilla was told the bar was members-only – a sign saying just that was posted in the window – he got into an argument, first, with the club’s doorman, Frederick Rickabaugh, 58, and then with the club’s owner, Alfred Mignogna, 61, both of Altoona.
Padilla returned to his car, came back with a handgun and shot Rickabaugh and then Mignogna, police said.
Another shot hit Stephen Heiss, 28, a bar patron and state prison guard, who was entering the club with a female friend when he saw Padilla shooting and pushed his friend out of the way.
Mignogna, a longtime Altoona High School math teacher who also owned another bar in town, died at the scene. Rickabaugh and Heiss died later at Altoona Regional Health Systems hospital.
After he fled the scene to a home in Altoona, Padilla called 911 and said he knew police were looking for him, authorities said.
“He said he believed he had hurt somebody but had been having blackouts and maybe had some flashbacks about it,” said Blair County District Attorney Dave Gorman.
A year ago, Altoona Police arrested Padilla during a domestic dispute and Cooper said the department discovered that he was an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Cooper said he didn’t know why Padilla wasn’t deported after that.
“For the answer to that question, you’ll have to call” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which handles illegal immigration deportation, Cooper told the local paper. “They were notified.”