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It was three years ago that Pittsburgh police officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo II were killed in a standoff in Stanton Heights.
Wednesday night, friends, relatives and fellow officers attended a special memorial service for the patrolmen at St. Joseph Church in Bloomfield.
Organizers say they wanted it to be a solemn tribute, but also an uplifting celebration of their lives and the sacrifices they made.
Hundreds of people packed St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bloomfield today to remember three police officers killed two years ago and to dedicate a memorial in their honor.
Their service to the community will never die, will never be forgotten,” the Rev. John Dinello said of Officers Paul J. Sciullo II, Stephen Mayhle and Eric G. Kelly, who were killed by a gunman in Stanton Heights on April 4, 2009. “They watch over us from heaven.”
The memorial statue is of a strong but sorrowful St. Michael the Archangel, the patron of police officers, standing on a mosaic pedestal with embedded photographs of the three officers. It was erected in a small memorial garden on land granted by both the City of Pittsburgh and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. Money is still being raised for the memorial, partly through the sale of small memorial police shields bearing the number 4/4/09. For more information about the memorial see http://www.bloomfieldnow.com/pittsburgh-fallen-heroes-fund/
James Simon gathered lumps of clay and molded them by hand. Slowly, he fashioned a 6-foot-tall statue of St. Michael the archangel and cast it in concrete.
The new memorial, which honors Pittsburgh police officers Paul Sciullo II, Stephen J. Mayhle and Eric G. Kelly, will be dedicated Monday, exactly two years from the day these men died in the line of duty in Stanton Heights.
St. Michael will be unveiled outside Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph Church on Liberty Avenue in the center of Bloomfield. Set in a small park with trees and a garden, the sculpture stands on a three-tiered base decorated with ceramic tiles that bear the officers’ images. Behind the statue is a stainless-steel shield made by Forms+Surfaces, an international company with an office in Etna.
Last July, while the sculpture was in progress, members of the officers’ families and the Rev. John Dinello, pastor of the parish, stopped by Mr. Simon’s studio.
Easter Mass, traditionally an occasion to celebrate the risen, was a moment to remember the fallen at a Catholic church in Bloomfield Sunday.
People crowded into the pews at Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph Parish on Liberty Avenue, filling all the rows and overflowing into the back recesses of the church.
Some may have attended to observe the religious holiday, but many were there to mark the one-year anniversary of the day three city police officers were killed in the line of duty.
The deaths of Officers Paul Sciullo II, Stephen J. Mayhle and Eric G. Kelly, who were gunned down while responding to a domestic call in Stanton Heights, rocked the city of Pittsburgh, devastating three families and a police force.
Over the past year, their deaths have been mourned, their lives honored and their families supported by a stunned city. The first anniversary of the deaths happened to fall on Easter, a day when Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
This religious feast, the end of the Lenten season of fasting and prayer, is traditionally marked by a church service filled with hallelujahs, bright-colored dresses, fragrant flowers and proclamations of “Christ is risen.”
At Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph Parish, where Officer Sciullo attended Mass, the dark uniforms of police officers offered a stark contrast to the spring hues that colored the congregation.
At first their eyes were dry, even as bagpipes wailed and a police chaplain spoke of their enduring heartache.
But the moment honor guards emerged with photographs of the three fallen officers’ stoic faces, grief washed through the crowd of police, their families and friends.
The tears during Friday’s remembrance seemed as fresh as those shed a year ago for Officers Paul J. Sciullo II, Stephen J. Mayhle and Eric G. Kelly. But this time, the tears broke for laughter as mourners tried to celebrate the officers’ lives without dwelling on their deaths.
Relatives and friends told of their humor, their family pride, their devotion to police work. Outside the Zone 5 station in Highland Park, hundreds of officers and dignitaries, children and retirees gathered in the warmth of a brilliant sun and recalled happier times, though the shadow of the deadly shooting in Stanton Heights loomed.
“What happened on that date to me is still unfathomable, incomprehensible, unimaginable and reprehensible,” the Rev. John Welch said, encouraging the crestfallen not to let the incident hold them captive as the anniversary renews a pain that none could say has vanished.
Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward, along with his teammates, made a major donation to Pittsburgh’s Zone 5 police force Tuesday.Ward presented the officers with Tom-Tom GPS systems for all of the zones’ police vehicles.
Officers Eric Kelly, Paul Sciullo and Stephen Mahley were killed in a shootout in Stanton Heights back in April.
All three were Zone 5 officers.
Ward hosted a softball fundraiser earlier this year to raise money for their families and the Pittsburgh Fallen Heroes Fund.
He used some of that money to buy the GPS systems. Best Buy also contributed to the cause.
“All in all through the softball tournament and the contributions from some of the players, we feel good about it. It’s an unfortunate situation. Like I said we’re blessed to have families here and the city of Pittsburgh has give us so much this is a small token of our appreciation and thanks to all the officers,” Ward said.
“It kind of puts a band-aid on it a little bit you hope by giving back to them and being around them a little bit around Christmas time,” said Steelers Guard Ramon Foster.
After the presentation, players stuck around to take pictures and sign autographs for the officers.
The photograph shows a 10-year-old boy in a red and white baseball uniform, facing down a pitch in the batter’s box. His face, shadowed beneath an oversized batting helmet, is intense as his skinny legs stride into his swing at the oncoming baseball.
His mother, embracing the large framed photograph, leans into her husband’s shoulder and weeps.
There were many meaningful words spoken at yesterday evening’s ceremony renaming the tiny baseball field in Bloomfield “Officer Paul J. Sciullo II Memorial Field,” put nothing struck home as hard as seeing Officer Sciullo’s parents, Sue and Paul J. “Max” Sciullo, accept the framed photograph of their son playing in an All-Star game in the early 1980s.
Officer Sciullo was one of three Pittsburgh policemen shot and killed in an April 4 ambush in Stanton Heights. Yesterday, the Bloomfield Citizens Council and the city honored his memory by renaming Dean’s Field after him.
“This is a historic event to ensure that Paul is remembered as part of our past, our present and our future,” said Janet Cercone Scullion, president of the citizens council. “This field belongs to everyone in the neighborhood, and it’s been where everyone has been through their rites of passage.
“If you’ve lived in Bloomfield, you were on that field. His grandfather, his parents, himself, they all played ball on that field.”
Squeezed between the buildings and back lots that line Liberty Avenue and the Bloomfield Bridge, the field is little more than a patch of green space with a dirt infield. Surrounded by towering chain-link fences and aluminum bleachers, it is where generations of Bloomfield kids have learned how to play. And, very often, it is where they learned how to deal with losing.
Those bittersweet lessons now will be learned behind a large blue sign bearing the name and badge number of Officer Sciullo.
“It’s important for us to continue to remember the legacy of Officer Sciullo and the other two officers that were taken in April,” said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl who attended the ceremony with numerous city and police officials. “This is a small gesture in an effort to remember him and really thank him and his family for the sacrifice that they paid on behalf of the residents of the city. I know he grew up here, he played baseball here as a kid.
“It is an honor to have that field renamed, and he’ll forever be remembered in Bloomfield. It’s with mixed emotions that we’re here.”
Mr. Ravenstahl said he was not at all surprised to see dozens of Bloomfield residents turn out for the event.
“It’s Pittsburgh, and we know how Pittsburgh unites,” he said. “And it’s Bloomfield, a very strong, tight-knit community that always comes out and supports one of its own. It’s a great neighborhood.”
Mr. Ravenstahl said the renaming of the field was initiated by the Bloomfield Citizens Council for the Sciullo family, and the mayor’s office and members of City Council gladly undertook it on their behalf. He said city officials are open to doing something similarly honoring the families of the other two officers, but they are leaving it to the families to make their wishes known.
Paul J. “Max” Sciullo, joined by numerous family members, spoke briefly at the ceremony, thanking everyone involved.
“Thank you for honoring our son,” he said. “We were always proud of our son in life, and we’re overwhelmed with pride now.
“And [thanks] to all the fine men and women of the Pittsburgh police department for their kindness and compassion and helping us get through these most difficult days, and making us part of your extended family.”
Police announced on Thursday that a Web site has been set up to make it easier for people to purchase the popular “Fightin’ 5” T-shirts and pay tribute to three fallen Pittsburgh police officers.
The T-shirts are now available at WWW.PITTSBURGHFALLENHEROES.COM.
Detective Patrick Moffatt, the T-shirt’s designer, said, “It was very tough. It is still very tough, but I took a lot of pride. I’m very proud.”Initially 12,000 of the T-shirts were printed to honor the valor and sacrifice of fallen Pittsburgh police officers Eric G. Kelly, Stephen J. Mayhle and Paul J. Sciullo II.Custom Printing Graphics, on the South Side, is printing 20,000 additional T-shirts, and they will be available through the Web site.The cost is $20 to $24, depending upon size, and 75 percent of the proceeds go directly to the Pittsburgh Fallen Heroes Fund, which is given to the three officers’ families. More than $300,000 has been collected thus far for their families.Click here to donate to the Fallen Heroes Fund.
This poem was printed on the back of the program handed out during the funeral for the three officers killed in Pittsburgh.
In the morning light,
the dew-laden glade shimmers a reflective warmth
that dispels the night shift’s cold.
Three officers emerge to walk to their final post,
after standing the last call of the roll.
They assume their eternal assignments,
with heads held high,
and a smile on each of their faces,
they remember our love,
and stand proudly at the duty assigned…
as sentinels to the right hand of God.
Thank you for your service to us in this worldly place,
and behold the honor of your new assignment…
as heroes in the memory of all who knew you.
Officer Stephen Mayhle
Officer Eric Kelly
Officer Paul Sciullo II
Stand your post.
Written by Teddy Anderson of Pittsburgh Police S.W.A.T.
Thousands of officers from throughout North America traveled to Pittsburgh on Thursday to pay their respects to three police officers killed Saturday while responding to a domestic call in Stanton Heights.
Standing at attention as three caskets carrying the bodies of Officers Paul Sciullo, Stephen Mayhle and Eric Kelly were escorted into the Petersen Events Center in Oakland, officers from as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida were reminded of the dangerous nature of their jobs.
“I’ve experienced this. I’ve been shot at. We live it daily,” said Toronto police Officer Steve Carpenter.
Officers from Boston, Florida, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey were among those joining Pittsburgh area law enforcement officials at Thursday’s memorial service.For Pennsylvania State Police, the day was about honoring their brothers in the city police department and their families.
“I think that everybody wants to be a part of this. I think everybody wants to come and show camaraderie, show support, but some of them, I think it’s an eye opener for them because you talk about the ultimate sacrifice and you talk about that you place your life on the line day in and day out. This punctuates it because they actually see that that occurred,” said Lt. Col. Jon Kurtz.
For the 100 officers from Boston who boarded a flight to Pittsburgh, it was an easy decision to make the trip.
“Because we’re a family. It’s important to come out and show Pittsburgh, show our brother officers we feel like you feel. I tell people, as you see them, you see yourselves,” said Asst. Supt. Kelley McCormack.