Somerset, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) Sergeant Mark Baserman, 61, died on Monday from injuries he sustained when he was attacked by an inmate while on duty at the State Correctional Institute - Somerset on Feb. 15.
Sgt. Baserman, an 11-year veteran of the PDOC, was sitting at a desk in a housing unit day room at approximately 7 p.m., when he was attacked by 22-year-old inmate Paul Kendrick, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
When a second officer intervened in the assault, Kendrick also punched him in the face repeatedly, and knocked him unconscious.
Sgt. Baserman was rushed to a local hospital, where he later died from the injuries he sustained during the attack, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
“This officer is a hero who gave his life to protect Pennsylvania from its most violent criminals,” Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association President Jason Bloom told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“His senseless death is a tragedy that must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Inmates must know that any attacks on an officer will lead to swift and certain punishment,” Bloom said.
Investigators said that Kendrick became enraged after Sgt. Baserman confiscated a towel from him earlier in the day. The inmate had been using the towel to obstruct the view of his bunk, Penn Live reported.
The officer who came to the sergeant’s aid was treated at a local hospital, and has been released.
"The minute we learned of this unprovoked, brutal attack on Sgt. Baserman and another officer who came to his aid our hearts sank," Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said in a news release, according to Penn Live. "We are greatly saddened by Sgt. Baserman's death and our thoughts are with his family at this time."
“Sgt. Baseman was an example of the honor, integrity and commitment that makes this agency what it is,” Wetzel continued. “We will honor Sgt. Baseman by ensuring that he is memorialized by the way we serve honorably and support one another in our duties each day. Remember that as corrections we are a family that binds together.”
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf also extended his condolences on behalf of himself and his wife.
“DOC, specifically to SCI Somerset, will have all the resources its needs during this difficult time,” he said.
“I also ask all Pennsylvanians to stand behind DOC employees now and always, as these law enforcement officers’ jobs are vital to protecting public safety,” the governor said.
Kendrick was serving a life sentence after having been convicted of first-degree murder in the 2014 shooting death of Maurice Freeman, who was playing basketball in an area where Kendrick felt Freeman didn't belong, Penn Live reported.
He has been charged with two counts of assault by a prisoner, two counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of simple assault, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Additional charges were expected following the death of Sgt. Baserman.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) Sergeant Mark Baserman, both blood and blue. Godspeed, we will take the watch from here. Thank you for your service.
Sergeant Mark Baserman, your life mattered.