Police: Westmoreland prison inmate had homemade shank in jail cell

·2 min read

Dec. 7—A Greensburg man in jail on charges of attempting to stab his community college teacher with a screwdriver was arraigned Tuesday for allegedly possessing a homemade weapon, or shank, in his cell.

A guard reported that while on routine rounds Nov. 21, he saw a shank lying on a blanket in the cell occupied by David E. Ross. The 24-year-old is accused of sharpening one end of his toothbrush "into a point which could be used as a weapon," county Detective James Williams wrote in court documents.

After viewing the altered toothbrush, the guard went to a supervisor, and the pair looked in the cell window and saw the shank still lying on a blanket on the floor near the cell door, Williams reported. Ross was seated nearby on his bunk.

The guard and supervisor got a broom and slid it underneath the cell door, pulling the blanket and shank out of the cell, according to court documents.

"This was done without incident, and the safety of all was maintained," Williams wrote, adding that the sharpened plastic toothbrush was confiscated as evidence.

On Nov. 9, a heating and ventilation program instructor at Westmoreland County Community College told state police that he was assisting Ross with air duct work when Ross allegedly lunged across the table separating them with a flat-head screwdriver.

The instructor suffered minor injuries, police said.

The campus was briefly placed on lockdown.

Ross is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and harassment in connection with the campus incident. A hearing is scheduled Dec. 15.

He now faces additional charges of possessing instruments of crime and possession of an implement that could be used for escape.

Ross's attorney, Lee Demosky of Greensburg, declined to comment on the cases.

Hempfield District Judge Mark Mansour on Tuesday increased Ross's $50,000 bond to $55,000.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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