- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Two Fayette County firefighters were helping police look for a South Connellsville man on the Youghiogheny River on Sunday afternoon when the man pointed a gun at them and threatened to kill them, according to police.

Derek Paul McKulka pointed a short shotgun at firefighters Amanda Stimmel and Melissa Loughman under the Dawson Bridge and told them, “I’ll kill yinz,” police said.

McKulka, 32, of East Youghiogheny Avenue is charged by state police at Uniontown with two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated assault on firefighters, prohibited possession of a firearm and two counts each of terroristic threats, simple assault and harassment.

Police said the incident began when a man heard gunshots coming from the river near his River Edge Road home in Dunbar Township at 3:25 p.m. Sunday and yelled out that the area was in a safety zone and off-limits to shooting. The man, Robert Bassinger, didn’t see who fired the shots, but police said McKulka and an unidentified person approached Bassinger to ask if he had shouted the warning.

“Bassinger related he replied yes, and McKulka punched him in the face,” Trooper Jonathan Monkelis said in an affidavit of probable cause.

A man who was with Bassinger, John Krivjansky, told police McKulka then kicked him in the head. Bassinger suffered a black eye and Krivjansky sustained a cut on his head.

Police said Mc-Kulka fled the scene in a kayak on the river.

Monkelis met Bassinger and Krivjansky on the Dawson Bridge, where they spotted McKulka on the river, near Phil’s Nite Club. McKulka refused to come ashore, and police later found the kayak on the opposite river bank.

The firefighters who were threatened were helping police look for McKulka, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

The affidavit doesn’t say when McKulka was apprehended.

It notes he is not to possess a firearm because he pleaded guilty in 2006 to causing or risking a catastrophe. As a result, police said, he is a felon who is not permitted to possess a firearm.

In April 2006, McKulka was charged with possession of weapons of mass destruction, arson, prohibited offensive weapons, driving under the influence, reckless endangerment and risking a catastrophe when police found four pipe bombs in his car.

The explosives were found when McKulka crashed a 1991 Cadillac on Route 40 in Henry Clay.

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors dropped the other charges, and McKulka was sentenced to six months of intermediate punishment.

In 2012, McKulka was shot in both hands after an accident on Pittsburgh Street in North Union. McKulka was driving a Geo Tracker when it rear-ended another car, police said.

During the other driver’s 2013 trial for attempted homicide, McKulka testified he was driving drunk and following too closely when the two collided.

The other driver, Ralph Ore Fisher, testified he fired at McKulka when McKulka put his small SUV in reverse, revved the engine and drove toward him. Fisher was found not guilty.

McKulka was arraigned Monday before North Union District Judge Wendy Dennis and placed in the Fayette County Prison in lieu of $25,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 11 in Central Court in Uniontown.

Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or [email protected]

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