LOWER BURRELL (KDKA) — The flags outside of the Lower Burrell Police Station in Westmoreland County are flying at half-staff today as people across the area mourn the loss of a veteran officer.

Officer Derek Kotecki, 40, was an 18-year veteran of the police force and Lower Burrell’s K-9 officer. He was shot and killed in line of duty Wednesday evening outside of the Dairy Queen on Greensburg Road.

“Please pray for the Kotecki family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them. I know I’m devastated by this,” said Chief Tracy Lindo, of the Lower Burrell Police Department. “Derek was a great, great police officer and he will be sadly missed by our community, by all of our department.”

Overnight, police officers from surrounding communities were seen coming in and out of the Lower Burrell Police Station offering their support for the department.

“Anyone who ever knew Derek loved Derek, he’s just that type of a human being,” said Chief Lindo. “It’s such a shame that it would have to come to this kind of a conclusion.”

Those who knew him say Officers Kotecki was a well-respected officer throughout the community.

“I knew Derek pretty well and Derek was a very fine officer. He’s going to be greatly missed by his family and the community,” said Ronald Hopkins, the retired chief of the Arnold Police Department.

A Facebook page was also created overnight where support and prayers are pouring in for Kotecki’s family and fellow officers.

Officer Kotecki leaves behind a wife and two children.

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