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Officer Dead, Another Wounded In Canonsburg Domestic Call

Gene J. Puskar



Updated: 3:03 p.m. 

One police officer is dead and another wounded after a shooting around 4 a.m. Thursday in Canonsburg, about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Officer Scott Bashioum, 52, died from a gun shot wound sustained while responding to a domestic call at 3:14 a.m. in the 100 block of Woodcrest Drive, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Melinda Bondarenka said. The second officer is in stable condition after surgery at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. His name has not been released.

The suspect, identified by the Washington County Coroner's Office as 47-year-old Michael Cwiklinski, “was known to our officers,” Canonsburg Borough Police Chief Alex Coghill said. He was found dead from a self-inflicted gun shot wound, authorities said.

The body of Dalia Elhefny Sabae, 28, was also found in the home. She died "as the result of a gunshot wound inflicted by (Cwiklinski)," according to the coroner.

The couple were declared deceased hours after the initial shooting, once bomb squad officers and others deemed the residence safe to enter. 

David Heckman, commanding officer for the Pennsylvania State Police Troop B, said there was initial fear that Cwiklinski might be lying in wait for the officers and any additional responders.

“He fired on (Bashioum and the unidentified officer) as they arrived, that’s all I can say," he said. "What his mindset was, I don’t know, but I think that speaks for itself.”

Mayor David Rhome said at noon it had already been a very long day.

"It’s going to be a longer day as we continue," he said. "We’ve lost a friend, a comrade. Our hearts and sympathy just go out to the family and to our folks in blue.”

Officials could not confirm where the officers were positioned at the time the shots were fired or what exactly led to the shootings. Police are unsure whether Bashioum and his fellow officer, who arrived at the residence in separate vehicles at about the same time, returned fire.

“We’re not trying to be evasive. We just don’t know,” said Heckman. “We’re in the midst of this. We’re right in the middle of it, but we at least wanted to get the preliminary information out there. This scene is now stable. No further risk to the public.” 

Coghill called Bashioum a great guy and loving father and husband who was "always willing to do whatever he had to do."

"Never once did he ever say no to me for anything," Coghill said. "He’s just one of those guys who always was there for you whenever you needed anything.”

The 17 officers serving Canonsburg Borough aren't just colleagues, they're friends, Coghill said. Several just returned from a group fishing trip.

“I was just looking at the pictures and just remembering them fondly,” he said. "(It's) just one of those things. You hope you never get a call like that and unfortunately it did happen to us.”

Neighbors and residents built a makeshift memorial of flowers, flags and handwritten notes outside the borough's police department on East Pike Street. Canon-MacMillan and Chartiers-Houston school districts canceled classes for the day.

Townsfolk “have surrounded us with nothing but love and prayers," Coghill said. "And we’re so thankful for that.”

Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge President Les Neri called Bashioum "a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting the community he served."

"We honor his bravery and unselfishness in the face of danger," Neri said in a statement. "We also join the Canonsburg community in praying for the healing of the wounded officer. We ask all Pennsylvanians to pray for these officers, their families and their communities.”