Woman Killed in Crossfire; Gunman Surrenders, Police Say

Police said during an exchange of gunfire, a downstairs neighbor of the alleged gunman in a Warminster apartment was struck and killed from her wounds at the scene.

Editor's Note: The victim of the shooting has been identified as Marie Zienkewicz, who was 89. A previous version of this story reported that she was 90.

An 89-year-old neighbor of the man involved in a shootout with police at a Warminster apartment complex Tuesday evening was killed in the crossfire, officials said.

Warminster Chief of Police Michael Murphy would not immediately release the victim's name, as she had not yet been positively identified by the coroner. Murphy said her family, however, had been notified. At this time, it is unclear how the woman got shot.

According to Murphy, the gunman, Andrew Graham Cairns, 49, surrendered to police at approximately 2:30 a.m.

Murphy said the incident began around 4 p.m. Tuesday, when police responded to a domestic dispute in the 2000 building of the Jefferson on the Creek apartments on Street Road.

He said the residents were referred to a caseworker after the initial call, but another call reporting shots fired from the same location came in around 7:40 p.m.

“When the officers approached the 2000 building, they came under fire from an upstairs apartment,” Murphy said, during a press conference early Wednesday morning. 

“During the exchange of gunfire, the downstairs neighbor of the gunman, a 90-year-old female, was struck by gunfire and died from her wounds at the scene,” he said.

Murphy said the woman was hit in the exchange of gunfire but it was not clear by whom.

According to Murphy, Cairns subsequently barricaded himself inside the apartment where he holed up for the next seven hours, until a negotiator talked to him over the phone and coaxed him out.

Murphy said during the standoff between 30 to 50 residents of the 2000 building and the nearby 1900 building of the Jefferson on the Creek Apartments were evacuated to a Red Cross reception area at William Tennent High School.

He said the displaced residents were in the process of being returned to their homes at the time of the press conference, around 4:30 a.m.

Murphy said Cairns is being held on aggravated assault charges, but he anticipates additional charges will be filed.  Cairns will be arraigned later today.

The investigation into the incident is being handled by the Bucks County District Attorney’s office.  

Read More:

  • Investigators Spend Day at Apartment Complex Crime Scene
  • Man Accused of Shooting at Police Held on $10 Million Bail
  • Police Standoff has Residents Talking
  • Police Surround Alleged Gunman in Warminster
Devon Van Horn March 05, 2013 at 03:32 PM
For everyone that is so up in arms that people are upset that police fired into an occupied apartment complex - and for those who continue to bark about people not being there - I was...My husband and I (5 months pregnant) live here within ear shot/view of the shooters apartment. We were eventually evacuated (7 hours after the start of this event) but prior to the one hour heads up automated phone call, we were informed of nothing other than the news and our friends who live in the complex but housed some swat/snipers in their apartment. The police claimed they evacuated the people - but they didn't - again - until 7 hours later. The news reported that residents still in the building and surrounding building were told by police to stay inside, away from doors and windows, lights off and get on the ground. We weren't. The news told us that. A few of our direct neighbors didn't even know that something was happening. If it weren't for a phone call from a friend - and the ability to hear the helicopter and megaphone messages, we'd have been clueless. A shot could have easily entered our apartment as it did the woman who was unfortunately killed. A little information would have been nice - as well as a little restraint on behalf of the officers. I do NOT hate cops - I RESPECT them and their intense jobs...but when your job is to serve and protect - I do not think you can justify shooting into a building occupied by the same people you are trying to protect.
john fitzgerald March 05, 2013 at 09:57 PM
And now for more breaking news in Warminster...During the week of March 25, Pennsylvania Dog Wardens will be canvassing homes in the Warminster Township area. All dogs must be licensed and vaccinated against rabies. Violators can be cited with a maximum fine of $300 per violation plus court fees. DO NOT OPEN YOUR DOOR. THEY DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO ENTER YOUR PREMISES UNLESS THEY HAVE A SEARCH WARRANT. Local PD have nothing better to do than harass lawbiding citizens. I have license and vaccinations for my pets but will not be inviting the dog warden in for tea! They can check with the Bucks County Treasurer who issued these licenses. They do not need to bang at my door. Just do something more useful to keep the township safe. There is no rabies epidemic among the canine population here so it isn't a public health issue either. Go chase the rabid racoons out there.
Tired of Hypocrisy March 08, 2013 at 06:53 AM
"....and the ability to hear the helicoptor and megaphone messages, we'd have been clueless". Confusing statement since you state that the police did not tell you to stay inside, away from doors and windows, lights out. What exactly then did the megaphone messages tell you that left you informed? Either you were informed or you weren't, but your post suggests contradictory statements. Also, perhaps instead of the police shooting back when shot at, they should have left the gunman run wild throughtout the complex shooting wildly, that way the police would have shown 'restraint' as you wish. Sorry, do not mean to be disrespectful but a little clarity in your post would be helpful for other to know whether or not the residents were informed.
Tired of Hypocrisy March 08, 2013 at 07:01 AM
AshleyW, my sympathy to you on the loss of your friend. Sometimes in life, no matter how 'sweet' someone is, they have another side. Obviously that is the case with your friend. 'Sweet' people do not break laws, lie to police and jump out windows for no reason. Oddly enough, the conclusion you reach on why he fled the home " woke up one morning and heard someone sounding like they're breaking in?" I find it difficult to believe such a "Sweet" person would run and leave their mother there to deal with the so-called intruder(s). If it had been a home invasion, why would he leave his mother alone? Sorry, it does not add up. We can agree to disagree and again, I offer my sympathy to you for the loss, however; if your 'sweet' friend was innocent, he would not have run, that much is obvious.
Devon Van Horn March 08, 2013 at 12:54 PM
I apologize I was unclear. The megaphones were not informing us of anything. They were directed at the shooter. They started off simply with directions on how he could give himself up - like "come downstairs and open the door. Once you open the door, put your hands in the air." They later turned into "Andrew, answer your phone. We aren't going anywhere" and "we just want to make sure you are ok" along with the original megaphone message. The only interaction our neighbors had with the police (apart from the ones stationed in a friend's apartment - which had hours into it became our main source of information as she works for the complex) was when they came outside to see what was going on. They were told to get back inside. Those shouting the directions didn't even identify themselves as police, and a few had to be told a few times to get back inside. Even when we got the evac call after midnight, it only stated that we would be evacuated. One neighbor was very upset as he was awaken by the police to be evacuated and they wouldn't even tell him anything. He thought there was a weather issue or a gas leak or something and was upset he couldn't take his animals. It wasn't until he was in the armored car with us that he was filled in on what was happening...by us. Also - the shooter was not roaming the complex. He was in his apartment and was passed out most of the night. In conclusion - no - the residents were not informed.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »