A Harlan County man was shot and killed in an alleged altercation with law enforcement on Thursday in the Woodland Hills community.
According to a press release from Kentucky State Police Public affairs Officer Shane Jacobs, Mark Sawaf, 39, of Harlan, was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound.
Jacobs said personnel from KSP Hazardous Devices, KSP Post 10, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Lexington City Police Department Hazardous Devices Unit and the Lexington City Fire Department Arson Investigation Unit were in Harlan on Thursday doing a followup investigation involving explosives found in Harlan earlier this year.
Jacobs also said as a result of an ongoing investigation and safety concerns for the public, the ATF, KSP Hazardous Devices Unit, and KSP Post 10 transported Sawaf back to Harlan County to aid in locating remaining improvised explosive devices. It was determined more of these devices had been deployed in wooded areas near the city of Harlan by Sawaf. Due to such an expanded area and large scale operation, the ATF requested the assistance of the Lexington Police Department Hazardous Devices Unit, Lexington Fire Department-Fire Investigation Unit, and KSP Hazardous Devices Unit. Several improvised explosive devices were located and destroyed at the scene. During the operation, Sawaf attempted to flee custody at which time an altercation occurred with Sawaf and members of the ATF (Special Agent Todd Tremaine), Lexington Police Department Hazardous Devices Unit (Lt. Matt Greathouse), and Lexington Fire Department- Fire Investigator Unit (Capt. Brad Dobrzynski).
“As a result of the altercation Capt. Dobrzynski from the Lexington Fire Department utilized deadly force by firing his weapon,” Jacobs said.
Sawaf was pronounced dead at the scene by Harlan County Deputy Coroner Jim Rich.
The release additionally states the body has been sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Frankfort for an autopsy. KSP Post 10 Investigative Sgt. Jason Joseph is heading the ongoing investigation. Joseph was assisted at the scene by KSP Capt. PJ Burnett, KSP Lt. Randy Surber, KSP Sgt. Danny Caudill, KSP Detectives Jake Wilson, Josh Cox, Kevin Miller, Bryan Johnson and Aaron Frederick. Members of the Harlan County Rescue Squad and Harlan EMS also assisted at the scene.
According to an earlier report, Sawaf was arrested by the ATF following a search of a residence on June 21. Sawaf was arrested on a complaint charging him with possession of a firearm (destructive device) which is not registered in the national firearms registry and transfer record and making a firearm (destructive device). He was lodged in the Laurel County Detention Center.
As a result of a hearing at the U.S. District Courthouse in London on June 29, Sawaf was ordered by U.S. District Judge Hanley Ingram to remain incarcerated until trial.
“As the result of information developed from an ongoing investigation, the Kentucky State Police feels that it is necessary to warn the public of trail cameras that could potentially have been modified as improvised explosive devices,” Jacobs said. “These devices have been identified in Harlan County. The public should exercise extreme caution if they come into contact with any such devices or suspicious packages or potential pipe bombs.”
If any member of the public locates any such object they should contact the Kentucky State Police Post 10 (606) 573-3131.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde.