CANONSBURG, Pa. (WKBN) – One of two western Pennsylvania police officers “ambushed” and shot while responding to a domestic situation has died.
The dead police officer was identified as 52-year-old Officer Scott Leslie Bashioum. He had been with the department for seven years, and was married with children.
“He’s a loving husband, loving father. He was willing to do whatever he had to do. Never once did he ever say ‘no’ to me for anything. He’s just one of those guys that always was there for you whenever you needed anything,” Chief Alexander Coghill said.
Police said the suspected shooter, 47-year-old Michael Cwiklinski, and his pregnant girlfriend, Dalia Sabae, were found dead in the home.
State police Trooper Melinda Bondarenka told reporters the incident began at 3:14 a.m. when the Canonsburg officers responded to a report of a domestic dispute.
The officers were “ambushed upon their arrival” to the Woodcrest Drive duplex and immediately shot, Bondarenka said.
“They were immediately fired upon by the subject. Both officers were struck by gunfire.”
Police were afraid to go into the home until 9 a.m., because they feared there could be a dangerous situation inside. When they got inside the home, they found Cwiklinski and Sabae, both dead.
Investigators said Cwiklinski killed himself after shooting the others.
The surviving officer was flown to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. His name has not been released, but police say he is in stable condition.
Neighbors said police were often called to fights at the home where the shooting occurred.
Defense Attorney David Wolf said he represented Cwiklinski in a domestic violence case against Sabae last November.
Court records show Sabae had obtained a protection order against the suspect, who police said they had run-ins with in the past.
Police admitted they may never know why Cwiklinski opened fire.
“I really wouldn’t begin to know how to personalize this,” said Chief Alexander Coghill, with Canonsburg PD. “It’s just one of those things. You hope you never get a call like that and unfortunately, it did happen to us.”
The situation is a lot for the community south of Pittsburgh, about the size of Campbell or Struthers, and its seventeen-man department to handle.
“You know, it’s been a long day. It’s going to be a longer day as we continue,” Mayor David Rhome said. “We’ve lost a friend, a comrade, and now our hearts and sympathies just go out to the families and to all our folks in blue.”
Hours after Thursday morning’s shootings, strangers were dropping off flowers, flags, cards and other mementos outside the government building in Canonsburg to honor someone they’d never met for what he did.
“We just wanted to come and show our support. My daughter said, ‘Mommy, I want to take flowers.’ So we did,” said Kelly Monaghan, of Cecil, Pa.
Some laid flowers, others wiped tears or knelt in prayer. Becky Travaglini, of Canonsburg, laid a teddy bear at the memorial, remembering when she used to wait on officers at a local restaurant.
“Guys would come in on weekends, like in between shifts, and get their breakfast and stuff. So you got to know ’em all,” she said. “It’s just, in this town we’re family.”
The Canon-McMillan School District canceled classes Thursday because of the heavy police presence, and the nearby Chartiers-Houston School District operated on a two-hour delay.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.