ELIZABETH BOROUGH (KDKA) — He is a new father, a member of the military and a police cadet who recently graduated from the academy. But just as he was about to join the force as an officer, he lost everything in a fire.
Now, the community is rallying around the rookie officer to get him on the job and back on his feet.
Elizabeth Borough Police Officer Ian Malone hasn’t even had one day on the job yet, but his name is known and so is heartbreaking story. Just as he was wrapping up a final test for his new job on the force, he returned home to find his apartment on fire.
“I was an instructor with the police academy, he was the president of the class, he stood out,” Elizabeth Borough Police Sgt. Garrett Kimmell said.
Sgt. Kimmell knew Malone before he was even hired.
“Ian is just a general good guy. He came down and interviewed well,” Sgt. Kimmell said.
Officer Malone, a new dad to 4-month-old Gianna, is engaged to be married. But now has to start over.
“That kind of just broke my heart about this, he was so excited to get started,” said Sgt. Kimmell.
A USB port in the couch, sources say, may have sparked the fire. Everything was lost, household furnishings, mom and dad’s clothes and all of baby Gianna’s belongings.
But the community has come to the family’s aid, donating dishes to diapers, cookware to clothing. The Gun Rack, in Belle Vernon, donated Malone’s new service weapon.
“In law enforcement, you see a lot of bad things, it just restores your faith, that there’s a ton of good people out there,” Sgt. Kimmell said.
Matt Fowkes opened the doors of his Neville Island Pittsburgh Public Safety Supply store to Malone. Fowkes, a trained firefighter, a fellow Indiana University of Pennsylvania alum, knew Malone spent thousands of dollars on schooling and then even more on equipment for his job.
“Imagine how happy you are to bring home the little one, your starting a new job and a career, your dedicating your life to public service, and this comes out of the blue, and you loose absolutely everything,” Fowkes said.
So, Fowkes gave Malone some of everything, all his duty clothing and then some.
Police say there is a saying among officers, “In this family no one fights alone.”
The department fielded thousands of phone calls, including from the Pittsburgh Police Bureau, as well as Allegheny County and state police, and even departments as far away as Ohio.
Malone and family are being helped by the Red Cross, staying in temporary housing until they find something permanent.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family. If you would like to donate, visit this link.
The Allegheny County Fire Marshal is investigating and Malone gets started on the force next week, where he is sure to be showered with even more appreciation by everyone who sees him.