By: Ashley Grasinger
(Greensburg, Pa.) – A Greensburg resident is facing seven charges of ethnic intimidation, criminal mischief, and harassment after an incident that involved three Seton Hill students. On Aug. 14 the Seton Hill students who live off campus recorded resident Brenda Wagner spraying the men with a pressure washer.
“The university is aware of the issues between our students and their neighbor – including the incident captured on video – and our staff and administration have been engaged in ongoing advocacy on behalf of our students,” wrote Seton Hill’s Chief Diversity Officer Momodu C. Taylor.
The incident started with parking complaints and then escalated over a few weeks.
According to court papers, Wagner called the police and used a racial slur in reference to the men and claimed they were “acting up.” When dispatch then informed her that she was on a recorded line she replied “I don’t give a (expletive).”
“Since 2018, we’ve dealt with her around fifty times,” said Greensburg Chief of Police Shawn Denning. These situations sometimes involved “issues with other neighbors,” according to Denning. This is the first incident that Denning recalled that involved any racial motivation.
An Instagram user by the handle of @officialxjourdyn posted the video along with her summary of the incident on her page and it quickly caught the attention of the community. Now a month since the date it was posted Aug. 14, has over six hundred comments.
Although the students were living off campus at the time of this incident Instagram users tagged Seton Hill accounts. One user wrote “@setonhilluniversity protect your students,” and another user wrote, “Seton Hill also needs to be advocates on behalf of their students.”
“This advocacy has included discussions between Seton Hill senior leadership and city officials, the neighbor and the students’ landlord,” wrote Taylor. “We understand that City of Greensburg Police have filed criminal charges against the neighbor related to the incident. Seton Hill will continue to offer support to our students throughout the legal process, and we hope for a just resolution.”
In this post, the user also states “the police were called again and instead of HER being reprimanded that cop told the boys that they should have “respect for their elders” and that the situation was their fault for parking there.”
The Greensburg Chief of Police Shawn Denning said “I wasn’t aware of that. I am not saying that somebody didn’t say that, I don’t know,” after being asked about the statement. Denning said that he will “go through the parking complaints and see who showed up.” Denning and Deputy Mollomo deny that it happened at the incident that lead to the charges but will look into the parking complaint incidents and the officers that responded to them claiming “that is not an accurate representation of what they should have said if it was said.”
“They weren’t the bad guys, they have to park somewhere,” Denning said in reference to the original parking complaints made against the Seton Hill students.
“We are more than welcome for them [anyone concerned about the situation] to call and I can explain to people, to anyone who is unfamiliar with the steps that we’re taking and the conversations that were having,” said Denning.
“I can’t go down there and put her in handcuffs and drag her away,” said Deputy Chase Mollomo that responded to the call. “As far as misdemeanors go, if they don’t occur in our presence I am just not allowed to handcuff her and take her away.”
Deputy Mollomo was the officer who filed the charges against Wagner.
“There are different ways in Pennsylvania for her to be arrested. She was arrested,” said Denning. “This officer did everything he was supposed to do. He got the information from the victims and he came back here and by filing this, this is the actual arrest.” Denning continued in reference to the criminal complaint paperwork.
“They need to concentrate on school and sports,” said Denning. “We will continue to do whatever we have to to make sure that she does not become a problem further than what she already has.”
“We want people to come to Greensburg and feel comfortable and if there are a small amount of people who commit crimes and make it unpleasant for others we will make sure they are held accountable,” said Chief Denning. “That is what we are here to do.”
When reached by The Setonian, the students involved in the incident declined to comment, citing legal advice.
Wagner did not respond to request for a statement.
The preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 20 at the Westmoreland County Courthouse.