Police: Man who rigged explosives attempts escape, is shot

A man accused of rigging trail cameras with explosives in the Kentucky woods was fatally shot during a confrontation with police while he was helping them search for devices, police said Friday.

Mark Sawaf, 39, of Harlan, Kentucky, tried to escape and was shot by Capt. Brad Dobrzynski, a Lexington Fire Department investigator, during the altercation Thursday evening, said Kentucky State Police Trooper Shane Jacobs.

Also involved in the altercation were a federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agent and an officer from the Lexington Police Department's hazardous devices unit, the trooper said.

Jacobs provided no additional details about the altercation, saying it was being investigated by state police.

Sawaf died at the scene. His body was taken to the state medical examiner's office in Frankfort for an autopsy.

Jacobs said the group had found several cameras " which are usually attached to trees " rigged with explosives and was still searching near a subdivision in the Woodland Hills community when the chain of events occurred leading to Sawaf's death.

"He tried to flee, and once they caught back up to him, an altercation took place and that's when deadly force was utilized," the trooper said.

Earlier this year, Sawaf was indicted on eight federal charges, including owning and making unregistered destructive devices, and was scheduled to go on trial next month, according to court documents. He had been ordered to remain in custody until trial but was brought back to assist in locating the explosives, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Authorities believe explosive devices were scattered over an approximately 5-mile radius in the eastern Kentucky woods, Jacobs said.

"We know that there are more explosives there," he said.

Sawaf was charged in June following a federal investigation into the explosion of a trail camera the month before that caused a man to lose multiple fingers and receive wounds to his torso, according to court documents. The man had obtained the camera from someone who found it on a mountain trail.

Sawaf was identified as a suspect and investigators who searched his home found several items consistent with materials used in the trail camera explosives, including a shotgun shell containing suspected explosive filler, a fuse, a hot glue gun and parts from trail cameras, court records indicated. Also found were six intact trail cameras and a handwritten note detailing various explosive mixtures.

Sawaf had owned and operated Harlan Counseling Inc. since 2014 and had a master's degree in mental health counseling, the Lexington newspaper reported, citing court documents.

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Associated Press Writer Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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