Shooting near Pittsburgh robotics competition local students attended

PITTSBURGH -- Students from Milwaukee made the more than 500-mile trip spanning more than nine hours to Pittsburgh, for a robotics competition, and a tragedy unfolded nearby.

Students from five different Milwaukee schools took part in the event, their preparation spanning hundreds of hours. Not many were prepared, however, for a gunman to open fire in a separate building not far from the competition.

Students from across the Midwest met at a Pittsburgh sports and event center to show off their engineering feats as part of the Regional First Robotics Competition. Meanwhile, about two blocks away, local law enforcement was responding to a shooting spree that left one person dead, and a half dozen others injured.

17-year-old Brianna Hawkins was one of about 30 students from Milwaukee who heard something during the event that was never intended to be part of the competition. "They just made an announcement and asked that no one leave the building," Hawkins said.

The gunman responsible was eventually killed by police, and officials say it's unclear at this time why the bullets were fired.

Students from Milwaukee stepped off the bus into the arms of waiting loved ones. Hawkins' father, Jeffrey says he was never concerned about his daughter's well-being because of the quick thinking of teachers on the trip. "The kids were able to stay focused and do what they went to Pittsburgh to do. The instructors, I give them credit for what they did, to have the students call and let their parents know they all was okay," Hawkins said.

One of the instructors credits the organizer, First Robotics, with keeping the event isolated and safe. The local students did not win during the regionals, but have another competition later this month in Milwaukee.