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Man accused of shooting, killing off-duty Oakdale officer Charles Stipetich in road rage incident

Man accused of shooting, killing off-duty Oakdale officer in road rage incident
Man accused of shooting, killing off-duty Oakdale officer in road rage incident 02:26

BLAWNOX, Pa. (KDKA) -- A man is facing homicide charges for allegedly killing an off-duty Oakdale police officer in Blawnox.

On Sunday night, 23-year-old Charles Stipetich was killed and the suspect was injured in a shooting after a fight on Fountain Street.

According to police paperwork, 40-year-old Kevin McSwiggen from Pittsburgh is facing charges of homicide and recklessly endangering another person. 

Police said officers found McSwiggen inside a Ford truck at the scene with a gunshot wound to his upper body.

Police said before McSwiggen was taken to the hospital, he said he was mad he got cut off on Route 28, so he followed the man to Fountain Street. McSwiggen said he got into a fight with the man and the man's father. 

Oakdale Police Chief Jim Lauria said Stipetich just recently joined the department.

KDKA Photojournalist Brian Smithmyer

"Chuck is young," Lauria said. "He wanted to be a policeman and that's very important to us, that desire. Good soldier, came out of the Marines, and this is what he wanted to be."

Lauria said the department is hurting.   

"We lost a family member, just like you lose a cousin or a brother, it's very hurtful."

Officers at the scene observed a video camera mounted on the windshield in McSwiggen's truck and obtained a search warrant.

According to the criminal complaint, video showed a red Ford Taurus passing McSwiggen's truck on the left on Freeport Road. Police said McSwiggen can be heard cursing as he follows the Taurus. 

Off-duty Oakdale officer Charles Stipetich was shot and killed during a road rage incident in Blawnox on July 3, 2022.  Handout

Investigators said the video also captured the fight, with McSwiggen confronting Stipetich before Stipetich's father appears and tries to break up the fight. Court paperwork said the three men leave the frame, and a gunshot is heard. 

Stipetich's father and McSwiggen are seen again fighting, and when McSwiggen points his gun at Stipetich's father, police said Stipetich pulls out a gun and shoots McSwiggen.

Stipetich was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

He had just graduated from the IUP Police Academy last month.  

"He was thrilled to get into law enforcement when I spoke to him a few days ago, anxious to start his first police job," IUP Criminal Justice Training Center Director Dennis Marsili said over the phone. "Just a horrible tragedy." 

The borough of Oakdale posted this statement on Facebook: 

"The Mayor, Council, Police Department, Fire Department, and Borough Staff grieve and mourn the loss of Officer Charles Stipetich, who was killed last night in an off-duty, senseless act of road rage.

"Although he was only with the Oakdale Police Department for a short amount of time, his desire and spirit for community service and police work was a beacon of light.

"We offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends, and all that cared for him. May his memories be a blessing." 

Police said McSwiggen is under police guard at a hospital until his release. 

Off-duty Oakdale officer shot, killed in road rage incident 02:08
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