ShareThis Page

Witnesses describe New Kensington officer's shooting

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, 2:27 p.m.
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.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
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.
Roses lay in a parking lot next to Cityreach Church on Leishman Avenue in New Kensington, near the site where New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw was killed Friday evening, Nov. 17, 2017.
Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
Roses lay in a parking lot next to Cityreach Church on Leishman Avenue in New Kensington, near the site where New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw was killed Friday evening, Nov. 17, 2017.
Police tape is left on a fencepost near the site where New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw was killed Friday evening, Nov. 17, 2017, on Leishman Avenue in New Kensington.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Police tape is left on a fencepost near the site where New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw was killed Friday evening, Nov. 17, 2017, on Leishman Avenue in New Kensington.
Members of the Lower Burrell community line up along Leechburg road to pay their respects as fallen New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw is brought to Rusiewicz Funeral Home in Lower Burrell on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Members of the Lower Burrell community line up along Leechburg road to pay their respects as fallen New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw is brought to Rusiewicz Funeral Home in Lower Burrell on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017.
Members of the Lower Burrell community line up along Leechburg road to pay their respects as fallen New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw is brought to Rusiewicz Funeral Home on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Lower Burrell.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Members of the Lower Burrell community line up along Leechburg road to pay their respects as fallen New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw is brought to Rusiewicz Funeral Home on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Lower Burrell.
Lower Burrell resident Jimmy Mazary holds a flag outside of Rusiewicz Funeral Home on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Lower Burrell.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Lower Burrell resident Jimmy Mazary holds a flag outside of Rusiewicz Funeral Home on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Lower Burrell.
Members of the Lower Burrell community line up along Leechburg Road to pay their respects as fallen New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw is brought to Rusiewicz Funeral Home on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 in Lower Burrell.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Members of the Lower Burrell community line up along Leechburg Road to pay their respects as fallen New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw is brought to Rusiewicz Funeral Home on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 in Lower Burrell.
People line Leechburg Road for the procession of slain New Kensington Officer Brian Shaw to Rusiewicz Funeral Home in Lower Burrell on Nov. 18, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
People line Leechburg Road for the procession of slain New Kensington Officer Brian Shaw to Rusiewicz Funeral Home in Lower Burrell on Nov. 18, 2017.

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."

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, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or on Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.