Witnesses describe New Kensington officer’s shooting | TribLIVE.com
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Brian C. Rittmeyer
New Kensington police Chief Jim Klein rests his head on a squad car on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, at Rusiewicz Funeral Home in Lower Burrell.

Nicole Drum was on a couch in her New Kensington living room Friday night when she heard shots, looked outside, and saw a city police officer fall to the ground across the street.

She went to Officer Brian Shaw — the first to reach him.

Shaw, 25, had been fatally shot after making a traffic stop a few doors down.

“I was trying to talk to him,” the 22-year-old said Saturday, wrapped in a blanket on the porch of her family’s Leishman Avenue home. “He wasn’t responding.”

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The Drum family placed a bunch of roses on the ground where Shaw had collapsed.

Brad Larocca, who lives next door to the Drums, also heard the shots. He looked out a window and saw Shaw trying to sit up. He also went across the street.

“I don’t know if he was trying to talk,” Laroccoa said. “He was gasping for air.”

Larocca said the shots he heard were rapid.

“I don’t know if the cop shot back or not,” he said. “Whichever one was shooting knew how to use a gun. It was quick.”

Nicole Drum said she heard six or seven shots, including one that hit her house. Her home was hit twice — once under the front porch, and a again on the second floor.

Neither shot went inside the house.

Her father, Wayne Drum, said police recovered one of the bullets, the one that hit the porch, on Saturday morning. He said he was told it was a .40 caliber slug.

The Drum home has a surveillance camera mounted under the second story eave. Wayne Drum said it had captured everything, but the video, since it was taken at night, was fuzzy. He said police took his hard drive, telling him they would be able to enhance it.

Wayne Drum wasn’t home when the incident happened. His daughter and wife were.

“It’s crazy. It’s all you can say,” he said. “I hope they catch the bastard.”

Pam Smail lives a few doors down Leishman toward Catalpa Street. She said she saw the lights of Shaw’s patrol car. When she looked out the window, she saw the SUV Shaw had pulled over take off, then heard shots.

“I didn’t see any people,” she said. “All of a sudden, the SUV in front of his police car took off. That’s when I heard the shots.”

Smail said she once met Shaw, during a custody issue involving her roommate’s son. It was a brief encounter in August, but was enough to form an impression.

“He was very sweet and understanding, just a nice guy,” she said. “I just feel for his family. I couldn’t imagine losing a son, especially in the way it happened. It was very tragic.”

Smail said drugs have been a problem on her block of Leishman, but she thought things were getting better.

“People ask me, ‘Aren’t you afraid?'” she said. “I say no. It’s my house. No one is going to force me out of here. I just hope they catch the person,” she said.

But Nicole Banichar has had enough. Her house on Leishman was burglarized three or four months ago. She was moving out Saturday morning.

“When that happened, I just started looking,” she said. “Then this.”

Banichar had been at work, and wasn’t able to get back to her house Friday night because police had the area blocked off. She spent the night at a friend’s.

“Horrible, horrible,” she said. “I hope they catch whoever did it.”

Jayme Wright, who lives just across Catalpa in the 1300 block of Leishman, said New Kensington is a small town where “the cops are basically your friends here.”

“We looked outside, seen there was trouble, and stayed inside,” he said. “It seemed to be the sensible thing to do.”

Wright called what happened “ridiculous.”

“It’s a sad state of affairs in this country nowadays,” he said.

Nicole Drum said the night felt like something that would happen in a movie. But it was real life.

“Nobody is really going to be OK with it,” she said. “It’s something you have to deal with.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or on Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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