Rookie New Kensington officer, Brian Shaw, slain at traffic stop
A New Kensington police officer hired in June was shot and killed Friday night during a traffic stop in New Kensington.
Brian Shaw, 25, was shot when he pulled over an SUV along Leishman Avenue, according to New Kensington police Chief James Klein.
A foot pursuit ensued and shots were fired, Klein said. He didn't elaborate. Shaw was shot in the chest, according to emergency radio transmissions.
The gunman is still at large, Klein said.
A "massive" manhunt was still on at 1 a.m. Saturday throughout New Kensington and other communities.
Police swarmed the scene from numerous neighboring towns and at least as far away as Cheswick, West Leechburg and Washington Township.
At least eight police dogs searched the neighborhood. A Pittsburgh SWAT team and a crew from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also was on hand.
Many police along the wide perimeter of the scene carried rifles.
Numerous first responders were called to the scene in the 1200 block of Leishman Avenue at about 8:10 p.m., according to Westmoreland County 911.
In a series of alerts, police across the region were instructed to look for a brown older model Jeep Grand Cherokee "involved in an officer's shooting."
Just after 11 p.m., a police radio transmission indicated that the car had been found, but the gunman had not.
They earlier had warned police to use "extreme caution" when approaching the car.
The transmission said the car had a temporary license plate that was registered to a Penn Hills resident.
A description of the gunman was not available early Saturday.
Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call New Kensington police at 724-339-7533 or call 911.
One Leishman Avenue resident said that police were going to homes and telling people to stay inside.
A police SWAT team and police dogs continued to check reports of break-ins at least two houses in the vicinity following the car's recovery.
A number of officers and New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo met behind closed doors and the blinds drawn at the city's police station. The mayor was not available.
A number of police from various towns gathered at Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison, where Shaw had been taken.
A reporter was met at the door by a hospital spokeswoman who was steering people other than police and relatives away from an area near the Emergency Department where they gathered.
Westmoreland County Detective John Clark was among the officers at AVH. He said Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck and other detectives were at the crime scene investigating. He said the officer's family asked him to keep all media away.
When Lower Burrell Police Chief Tim Weitzel showed up at the New Kensington police station to help Friday night, at least one officer remembered New Kensington police assisting Lower Burrell when its officer Derek Kotecki was fatally shot in an on-duty ambush on Oct. 12, 2011.
"It was a nightmare flashback of what happened six years ago," said Brian W. Sekanic, a fire police officer with New Kensington. He remembered then New Kensington Chief Ron Zellers assisting Lower Burrell.
"We never wanted that favor repaid," he said.
Shaw was a 2010 graduate of Burrell High School. He played soccer and was Burrell High School's football kicker in 2009-10, his senior year.
According to Shaw's LinkedIn page , he had a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and graduated from the Allegheny County Police Training Academy in 2014.
Shaw worked as a part-time police officer in Cheswick, Frazer and, most recently, Springdale Township prior to joining the New Kensington force, according to Dawn Biery, Springdale Township secretary.
His friends remembered him as a happy, helpful man who loved being a police officer.
"Ever since he was 17 or 18, that was all he talked about," said Shaw's friend, Allie Wilhelm. "He was like, 'It's my calling.'"
Shaw was hired by New Kensington in June.
"I ran into him about six months ago, he was in uniform and he looked great. He looked happy, so happy," Wilhelm said.
"He was a great family man and always thought about his community, and always wanted to help anyone he could," said classmate David Fleck.
Ciara Herbst, Shaw's friend and former coworker, said Shaw's happiness was infectious.
"He was the most genuine guy," she said. "He honestly cared about everyone and wasn't leaving somewhere unless everyone had a smile on his face."
Jacob Tierney and Mary Ann Thomas are Tribune-Review staff writers. Staff writer Tawnya Panizzi contributed to this report. Reach Tierney at 724-836-6646 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thomas can be reached at 724-226-4691, email@example.com or on Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.