Blawnox, PA – Oakdale Police Department (OPD) Officer Charles “Chuckie” Stipetich was fatally shot while trying to protect his father from a road-raging gunman on Sunday night, according to his family.
According to court documents, the off-duty, 23-year-old officer was traveling along Route 28 in a red Ford Taurus when he passed a Ford pickup truck on the left side, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
The driver of the pickup, 40-year-old Kevin Alan McSwiggen, had his dashcam recording at the time.
Police said McSwiggen felt Officer Stipetich cut him off, so he honked his horn at him and then followed the off-duty officer’s car off the highway and onto Jackson Street, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Officer Stipetich continued driving to his family’s home on Fountain Street then parked and got out of his vehicle, police said.
His father, Charles Stipetich, went outside and saw Officer Stipetich and McSwiggen arguing.
When the argument turned physical, Charles Stipetich stepped between the two men and was allegedly shoved to the ground by McSwiggen, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
McSwiggen’s dashcam showed Officer Stipetich walking towards his home with McSwiggen following behind him.
The elder Stipetich stepped in front of the suspect just before the three men walked out of the camera’s view, according to court documents.
That’s when a gunshot rang out.
The video showed Officer Stipetich walking back into the frame and lifting his shirt in an apparent attempt to look at a gunshot wound to his abdomen, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
It also allegedly showed the suspect pointing his gun at the officer’s father.
Officer Stipetich quickly pulled out his own firearm and shot at McSwiggen, hitting him at least once.
“Chuckie saved my life,” Charles Stipetich later told reporters, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The guy was going to shoot me. Chuckie shot the guy so he couldn’t shoot me.”
Blawnox Police Officer Nick Hawk was on-duty in the area and heard two gunshots ring out, according to police.
A 911 call about the shooting came in at almost the same moment.
Officer Hawk and a second officer responded to the scene and encountered Charles Stipetich, who told them that his son had been shot, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
The officers found Officer Stipetich in the middle of the road, suffering from a gunshot wound to his upper abdomen, according to court documents.
They quickly rendered aid until an ambulance arrived and rushed the young officer to Allegheny General Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Officers located the gunman sitting in his pickup, which was parked in the center of Fountain Street.
McSwiggen was bleeding from his underarm and his left bicep, according to police.
Investigators said they recovered a handgun from his vehicle.
The gunman was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
He has since been charged with criminal homicide and two counts of reckless endangerment.
Officer Stipetich, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, joined the OPD approximately one week before his murder, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
“He told me when he was nine years old he was going to be a Marine, and he accomplished his goal,” Charles Stipetich told WTAE. “He told me when he got out of the Marine Corps that he was going to the police academy to become a policeman, and he did. He was a policeman for seven days or eight days.”
“He didn’t deserve to get shot and die in the street like a dog,” he told CBS News.
The young officer’s mother, Deena Stipetich, said her son “died a hero,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
“He wanted to change the world, and he is my hero because he sacrificed himself to save my husband’s life,” she told WTAE through her tears.
Oakdale Police Chief Jim Lauria said he has known Officer Stipetich’s father for many years.
“We’re a brotherhood, first and foremost,” Chief Lauria said of the area’s law enforcement community. “So, when you lose someone, it’s losing your child. In my case, I’m the chief, so they’re my kids. I lose a child.”
“When a town like Oakdale loses anyone, especially a young policeman, it damages the town,” the chief added.
Officer Stipetich’s brother, Branden, told WTAE that his brother “was a fantastic person.”
“He achieved every goal he had,” Branden said. “That was my best friend and he’ll never be forgotten. I hope to be half the person he was when I get older.”
Deena Stipetich said her son is an organ donor, and that he will continue to help others even after his death, WPXI reported.
A fundraising campaign established to help Officer Stipetich’s family in the wake of their loss has raised over $19,000 so far.
The Oakdale Police Department is mourning the loss of one of their own.
Police say 23-year-old Charles Stipetich was shot and killed by a road rage driver who followed the young officer to his parents’ home and confronted him.
— Ashley Zilka (@ashleyzilka) July 5, 2022
Oakdale Police Officer Chuckie Stipetich was shot to death last night while off duty. His family tells me he’s been a police officer for just a few days. I’ll have his story at 4, 5 and 6 on @WPXI pic.twitter.com/wEho0yzBh6
— Michelle Chavez (@MichellePChavez) July 4, 2022
Chuckie Stipetich https://t.co/7n705OP0cF
— LeAnne (@HelgaBaumgardne) July 5, 2022
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Oakdale Police Department Officer Charles “Chuckie” Stipetich, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.