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Suspect in Greensburg Salem Middle School break-in died as officers try to arrest him

Renatta Signorini
| Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, 1:03 p.m.
Greensburg Salem Middle School
Greensburg Salem Middle School
Ian Sagucio
Ian Sagucio

Westmoreland County detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a Greensburg man Thursday as city police arrested him for breaking into Greensburg Salem Middle School.

Detectives are interviewing the four Greensburg police officers who were injured while arresting Ian Frederick Sagucio, 35, at his home, District Attorney John Peck said.

“We were called to the scene (Thursday) because it appeared Ian Sagucio was in distress as a result of the arrest,” Peck said.

Sagucio became unresponsive after officers handcuffed him following a violent struggle, police Chief Chad Zucco said in a news release.

Officers attempted to revive him, but Sagucio was pronounced dead at 11:10 a.m. in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital.

Officials are awaiting toxicology results from an autopsy performed Friday before ruling on the manner of Sagucio's death, Coroner Ken Bacha said.

“Nothing looks suspicious or foul play or anything that we can tell right now,” Bacha said.

Police were summoned to the middle school Thursday morning after Superintendent Eileen Amato noticed that an electronic keypad on a door entryway appeared to have been tampered with. Students stayed in their homerooms.

Police swept the building, found nothing wrong and the school day resumed as normal.

Administrators and police began examining video surveillance at 8 a.m. Thursday and noticed that a man had broken into the building and wandered the halls from about 5:41 a.m. to 6 a.m. The building was put on lockdown and police again made checks, but found no problems.

Zucco said in the release that video surveillance showed the suspect trying to open multiple doors before getting inside.

“The actor was able to literally tear a door handle off of a steel door with just his hands after trying several other doors by kicking them and hitting them with rocks,” Zucco wrote in the release.

Police recognized the man from previous run-ins and identified him as Sagucio. Authorities said he just walked the school hallways.

“Officers had dealt with Sagucio several times, including twice in the previous 24 hours, in which Sagucio was acting irrational and had erratic behavior,” Zucco said in the release. “Officers were also aware of an incident from a few months prior in which Sagucio injured an officer during an arrest.”

In a criminal complaint for an unrelated Sept. 30 allegation, Sagucio admitted to police that he has a history of abusing Coricidin HBP cough and cold medicine, known as Triple C, a medicine made for people with high blood pressure that can cause hallucinations and dissociative effects when taken in large doses. Sagucio fought with three city policemen attempting to arrest him then and was charged with aggravated assault and related offenses.

On Thursday, officers went to his home and found that Sagucio was “extremely agitated and irate,” Zucco said in the release. Police did not say where the home is located.

An “intense struggle” ensued, and Sagucio “violently resisted officers” for four to five minutes, police said. Officers attempted to use a Taser, but it did not have an effect, Zucco said.

Officers eventually handcuffed Sagucio, who appeared to be having a medical emergency, Zucco said. Police unsuccessfully attempted to revive him.

One officer suffered a wrist injury and a second had a head injury. Two more officers had blood spit on their faces, bodies and mouths by the suspect, police said. All four were treated and released from the hospital.

A contractor visited the middle school later Thursday to inspect the doors, which are secure, Amato said in a letter to parents posted on the district website.

Sagucio was sentenced in October 2013 to three to 23 months of incarceration followed by three years of probation in connection with the severe neglect of a disabled Bell Township man while Sagucio worked as a home health care aide. Police said the victim had cuts and bruises to his genitalia and inner thigh.

Sagucio's probation had been revoked and the payments of his fines were 234 days overdue, according to court records.

No court action had been scheduled in the September case.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, or via Twitter @byrenatta.

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