Officer James Kuzak
Photo credit: Clairton Police Department
CLAIRTON, Pa. --
Police have arrested and charged one of two men accused of shooting a Clairton police officer Monday night during a home invasion and robbery.
Clairton police Sgt. Henry Giles said Officer James Kuzak, 39, remains in critical condition after emergency surgery at UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Myles Hutchinson, 21, of McKeesport, has been charged with felony assault on a law officer and other crimes relating to the home invasion, according to online court records.
During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, police said the incident began when Hutchinson and another man knocked on the victims' door and forced their way inside.
Allegheny County Police superintendent Charles Moffatt said a man, woman and their two kids, ages 8 and 4, were inside. The men held the adults at gunpoint, pistol whipped them, demanded cash and drugs and sexually assaulted the woman.
Investigators said when police responded to the home the men burst through the door shooting their guns.
Moffatt said officers could hear the men saying they would shoot their way out of the Miller Street home.
Police said both men were armed and they assume that both men fired shots during the incident until evidence proves otherwise.
Police are continuing to search for a second shooter. Police did not identify the second suspect and no warrant has been issued.
Kuzak was struck three times, said Moffatt. The most serious injury came when a bullet struck his shoulder area and travelled through his body. Moffatt said Kuzak may be paralyzed, but wouldn't confirm any information regarding his condition.
A second officer who responded with Kuzak was not hurt.
Kuzak recently returned to police work after a private sector job and was taking two shifts a week in Clairton. He was previously an officer in Peters Township, where he spent more than a decade on the force.
Clairton Police Chief Robert Hoffman said that even though Kuzak has only been with the department a few weeks, he's a good officer who brought a lot of proactive policing and experience to the job.
“Police work is a brotherhood,” Hoffman said. “We have a lot of strong community support here. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jim and his family right now.”
The chief of Peters Township Police said Kuzak is one of the most dedicated officers he's ever had on his team.
"He is very aggressive. He loved his job and ate and breathed his job," said Harry Frick.
One neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified, told Channel 11 News it was the second home invasion and shooting in the area this year. The woman said she heard four shots and ran from her home, but police told her to stay inside.
She said she’s not surprised and believes the home invasion was drug-related.
A fund to help in Kuzak's recovery has been set up through PNC Bank. Donations can be mailed to:
James Kuzak Fund, P.O. Box 225, Clariton, PA 15025
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