LOWER BURRELL (KDKA) — Friends and family of Officer Derek Kotecki are mourning today following the shooting outside the Dairy Queen in Lower Burrell that claimed his life.
The flag outside the Lower Burrell Police Station has been lowered to half-staff in honor of Officer Kotecki.
His impact on the community was evident by the amount of people that came to the police station to pay their respects one day after the deadly shooting.
Chaplin Harold Mele, of the Fraternal Order of Police – Lodge 39, says everyone is taking the tragedy really hard.
“They’re frail. They just lost a loved one,” said Chaplin Mele. “When something comes along like this, and how one phone call can change just everything.”
Officer Kotecki, a man who gave almost two decades to serving and protecting the community, worked as a K-9 handler. He also had a huge impact on students with his involvement in the DARE program.
Everyone that knew Officer Kotecki says he always had a smile on his face.
“There’s a Scripture in the Bible that says ‘For what love hath a man that he lay down his own life for his country,’ and that’s exactly what this man did,” said Chaplin Mele.
The outpouring of support for his fellow officers and for his wife and two children that he leaves behind is astounding, reaching all the way to a Facebook page that now has more than 2,000 members – some friends, some family and some even strangers thanking Officer Kotecki for his bravery and service.
Officer Kotecki leaves behind a wife and two sons, ages 13 and 9. Funeral arrangements are still being worked out.