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Shooting spree injures newspaper employees: pressman shoots co-workers at Pennsylvania daily.

Shooting spree injures newspaper employees

Pressman shoots co-workers at Pennsylvania daily

An early-morning shooting spree in Levittown, Pa., put a mailroom employee, two pressmen and a security guard into hospitals and a third pressman behind bars on March 29.

The victims and suspect all worked at the Bucks County Caurier Times, a 65,000-circulation Caulkins group daily newspaper serving a suburban area just north of Philadelphia.

Police identified the suspect as Robert C. Rovinski, a 43-year-old resident of nearby Croyden who had worked for the Courier Times for 18 years.

Police said they responded at 3:22 a.m. to the shooting of Sharon Zorger, referred to by a police spokeswoman as Rovinski's friend. The victim was employed in the mailroom at the Courier Times, which gave her age as 47.

Rovinski reportedly stopped Zorger while she was in her car. Police said that after wounding her in the knee, he proceeded to the Courier Times. It was believed Zorger was able to travel to her home in adjacent Bristol township before summoning police.

According to a Courier Times spokesman, Rovinski was in fact returning to the newspaper building after having left the pressroom some time after midnight. He was returning from his home with a Mossberg shotgun, according to district attorney Alan M. Rubenstein.

The Courier Times spokesman said Rovinski arrived back in the pressroom between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., when about two-thirds of the press run was complete. Once inside, Rovinski approached two pressmen at the folder, apparently motioned one of the pair away, then shot Francis P. Mitchell, 60 years old and a Courier Times employee for 20 years.

From there, said the spokesman, Rovinski entered the platemaking room, where he fired on 49-year-old Robert Johnson as he stood in a smoking area doing paperwork. Johnson is a 30-year veteran of the Courier Times.

From platemaking, the suspect reportedly made his way through the composing room and other areas and into the cafeteria, where he shot security guard Scott Allen, who had apparently heard the shooting and was telephoning police. The guard, 22 and unarmed, worked at the Courier Times for Stanley Smith Security.

The pressmen and the guard were taken to three separate hospitals. The guard was released the same day. D.A. Rubenstein reported that Zorger and the two pressmen were all in stable condition.

"A great stroke of fortune" was the prosecutor's assessment of the "survivable injuries" sustained by the four shooting victims.

The newspaper's spokesman did provide this account of Rovinski's capture. At about 9 a.m. he sought assistance from a towing service. Shortly thereafter a police officer recognized from police reports Rovinski's car on a flatbed truck and the suspect seated next to the truck's driver.

Rovinski was arraigned on four counts of attempted murder.

The spokesman added that there were reports firemen put out a small fire at about 7:30 a.m. the same morning at the suspect's house, where flammable liquids also had been discovered.

Asked if the suspect had ever before been known to behave violently, the spokesman said the shootings were "certainly unexpected."

Shortly after Rovinski's arrest, the prosecutor's office said there was no known motive. Several days later, however, people close to the case said Courier Times workers reported Rovinski became angry when he saw one of Zorger's co-workers put his arm around her. Rovinski then left the paper and returned with a shotgun.

Rubenstein later confirmed the report, but said establishing a motive in the case was "attempting to rationalize the irrational."

Of a 10-person production department crew on duty at the time of the shootings, three pressmen were on the upper level of the press and another three or four were on the lower level, according to the paper's spokesman. Alerted by a pressman who descended from the upper level, those below were able to escape the pressroom through a rear door. Several pressroom employees were eyewitnesses to Mitchell's shooting, according to the paper's spokesman.

A "sizable number" of employees were reported working in the mailroom at the time, bundling and loading the morning's paper.

With Rovinski jailed and Mitchell and Johnson recovering, the paper was expected to be printed using production personnel not ordinarily working at the time the shootings took place.
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Title Annotation:Robert C. Rovinski; Bucks County Courier Times
Author:Rosenberg, Jim
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Date:Apr 13, 1991
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