• Motive still unknown for deadly police ambush, pregnant woman's slaying

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    CANONSBURG, Pa. - Police said they still don't know what prompted a man to ambush police officers, kill his pregnant wife, then kill himself Thursday in Canonsburg.

    State police said the officers were ambushed shortly after 3 a.m. as they responded to a domestic situation at a home on Woodcrest Drive. One officer was killed and another was wounded.

     

    Officer Scott Bashioum, 52, of Canonsburg, died at Canonsburg Hospital.

    Funeral arrangements for Bashioum have been made through Beinhauer Funeral Home, with visitations being held Monday and Tuesday 3-9 p.m. both days. His funeral service will be held at noon Wednesday at Church of the Covenant in Washington. He will be buried at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Bridgeville.

    On Saturday, a large memorial in front of the Police Department continued to grow as community members gather to mourn and pray.

    Officer Scott Bashioum

    The wounded officer, James Saieva, was flown to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. State police said he had surgery and was last listed in stable condition.

    “I visited him last night and he’s in excellent spirits. He’s hoping to be released soon,” Canonsburg police Chief Alexander Coghill said Saturday during a news conference.

     

    Officer James Saieva (Photo source: Observer-Reporter)

    Investigators confirmed that the shooter, Michael Cwiklinski, and his 28-year-old wife, Dalia Elhefny Sabae, were found dead about 9 a.m. in a second floor bedroom of the home.

    Warco said Cwiklinski died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    Sabae, who was three months pregnant and had an active protection from abuse order against Cwiklinski, was shot multiple times, Coghill said. Warco said she died of a gunshot wound inflicted by her husband.

     

    Michael Cwiklinski (suspect) and Dalia Sabae

    During Saturday’s news conference, Coghill said Cwiklinski fired at the officers with a high-powered rifle from a second-floor window of the home. Bashioum was shot twice as he approached the front door of the home, but was able to return fire. Saieva was shot once while he was in his patrol vehicle.

    “I heard a loud bang, thought it was a transformer. There was one shot, then a series of two or three,” neighbor Kevin Liberatore said. “I came to the front window and realized a cop was coming up the street, and he was on the radio telling the other officer, ‘I'm coming up behind you. Are you OK?’”

    Moments later, Sgt. Donald Cross arrived at the scene and saw Bashioum on the ground, Coghill said. He drove his patrol vehicle through the line of fire and closer to Bashioum, who he pulled partially into the vehicle. Two other responding officers drove Bashioum to the hospital after they assisted Cross in getting him into the vehicle.

    Coghill said Cross then drove another police vehicle to Saieva, who was sitting on a curb. They took cover and Cross got Saieva into the vehicle and drove him to an ambulance that was down the street.

    According to Coghill, Cwiklinski continued firing at officers and also shot at a vehicle that was parked in front of the home. The vehicle, which had been loaded with gasoline, propane and acetylene tanks, was struck at least twice but did not ignite.

    State troopers said that some neighbors were evacuated during a SWAT situation. Those who were not evacuated were urged to stay inside their homes. Roads in the area were closed and the Allegheny County Bomb Squad was called to the scene because investigators were concerned that there might have been hidden explosives inside the home.

    A robot was used to enter the home, where more propane and a lit acetylene torch were discovered, Coghill said.

    Schools in the Canon-McMillan School District, Chartiers-Houston School District and Saint Patrick Parochial School were closed Thursday. Police said there was no ongoing threat to the public after Cwiklinski was found dead.

    “It’s going to take probably years to personalize something like this,” Coghill said.

     

    Coghill described Bashioum as a loving father and husband and "just one of those guys who always was there for you whenever you needed it."

    “We’ve lost a friend, a comrade,” Canonsburg Mayor David Rhome said. “We can’t take back what has happened. All we can do is move forward.”

    The Western Pennsylvania Police Benevolent Foundation has set up a fund for Bashioum's family. The Officer Scott Bashioum Children Memorial Fund is at the Washington Financial Bank in Washington County. People can donate at any Washington Financial Bank branch. More information about the foundation can be found at wppbf.org

    Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all commonwealth flags on the Capitol Complex and at all commonwealth facilities in Washington County to fly at half-staff to honor Bashioum. The governor said flags should remain lowered until sunset Monday.

    Coghill told Channel 11 News that he expects more than a thousand officers from across the country to attend Bashioum's funeral.

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