Suspect charged, cop cleared in deadly Bucks standoff shooting

March 8, 2013 5:26:46 AM PST
Bucks County prosecutors have filed a first-degree homicide charge in the case of an 89-year-old woman killed during a police standoff and shootout at a suburban Philadelphia apartment complex.

The Bucks County District Attorney's Office says 49-year-old Andrew Cairns is responsible for the death of his Marie Zienkewicz, despite the fact that the deadly bullet that struck the elderly neighbor was fired from a police officer's weapon.

"He is responsible for Ms. Zienkewicz's death on the basis of his intentional acts to harm the police," Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said.

Heckler says on February 19th, Cairns fired more than 20 shots at Warminster Township police through a screen window inside his apartment at the Jefferson on the Creek complex off of Street Road.

Cairns barricaded himself after a fight with his girlfriend, Deborah Silva, who called 911.

Police believe she was highly intoxicated.

Police say the suspect was shooting a .44 magnum from inside apartment 2004, which police were told was the fourth apartment from the left, but the units were out of order.

"The apartments are numbered 2001, 2002, 2004, 2003," Heckler said, pointing a photo of the apartment units.

So police were lined up to fire at the wrong apartment and when Marie Zienkewicz opened her door to try to help the suspect's distraught girlfriend, police shot and killed her.

"I can only describe it as a fateful factor, Marie Zienkewicz died as a good neighbor, a Good Samaritan," Heckler said.

The DA says the police officer who fired the fatal shot in an attempt to protect the innocent will not be prosecuted.

The victim's family could not be reached for comment.

Now that Andrew Cairn's charges have been upgraded to criminal homicide, he's being held at the Bucks County Prison without bail.