Wife Accidentally Kills Husband During Gun Lesson: Police

A fun night for a Delaware County woman turned deadly after police say she accidentally shot and killed her husband.

Police say Michael Wanko, 43, and Michele Wanko, 42, were “casually drinking” vodka and lemonade together inside their home on West Roland Road in Parkside, Pa. Friday night. Around 3:30 a.m., police say the couple went into their basement so that Michael could show his wife how to use a semiautomatic pistol. The couple went into a work room where several weapons were kept inside a safe.

“He took several of the weapons out, handguns and was demonstrating to her how the weapon worked as far as taking the magazine out, making sure it was safe, and how to pull the slide back,” said Parkside Police Chief John Egan.

As Michael reached into a safe to grab a gun, police say Michele picked up another gun and pulled the slide back, just as her husband had instructed her.


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“When she let go of the slide, the weapon went off,” said Chief Egan.

Michael was struck in the upper chest. At the time, police say, the couple’s 2-year-old and 5-year-old sons were sleeping upstairs. Police say the 5-year-old was awakened by his mother’s frantic screams as she called 911.

Police arrived at the home around 4 a.m. Michael was taken to Crozer-Chester Medical Center where he was pronounced dead shortly after.

Michele was charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and possessing an instrument of crime. She was processed at the Chester City Jail and released on $250,000 unsecured bail. Her two children are currently staying with relatives.

Police say the gun Michele used was turned over to the Delaware County ballistics unit where investigators would “ascertain if the weapon malfunctioned or if it operated properly.” They also say they found additional weapons while searching their home on Sunday.

Neighbors described the Wanko family as “nice people” who always did things with their children and were well respected throughout the neighborhood. Chief Egan says police were called to their home a year ago for a domestic dispute but that it was only “a shouting match between the two.” No one was charged in that incident.  

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