PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — While the search for the suspect in a New Kensington Police officer’s fatal shooting continues, fellow police officers and the community are beginning to say their goodbyes.
The first sight for people coming to Rusiewicz Funeral Home to pay final respects to 25-year-old New Kensington Police Officer Brian Shaw is the patrol car he was driving the night he was shot. The lights were flashing and the car was draped in black ribbons.
Murrysville Police Chief Tom Seefeld has long-time ties to the New Kensington Police Department.
“I worked there for 20 years, so it kind of tugs at my heart a little bit, you know?” he said. “Anytime an officer goes down, we as law enforcement have to stick together. It’s like losing a brother.”
Shaw was a rookie police officer. He was hired only a few months ago and his first day on the job was July 1. He quickly made an impression with his motivation, positive attitude and infectious smile.
New Kensington Fire Chief Ed Saliba, Jr., said of Shaw, “His smile was so radiant and vibrant. He was very compassionate, and his passion for police work was superb.”
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Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi says officers from Armstrong County are assisting New Kensington Police with patrols during their grieving period. He says Officer Shaw’s death is an example of the dangers of police work.
“It highlights once again that there’s no such thing as a routine traffic stop, that every time these officers go out to work they put their lives in danger,” he said. “We thank them and we thank God for protecting them every day.”
Retired State Trooper Adrian Lapaglia sympathizes with New Kensington Police officers having to search for a murder suspect while they are grieving.
“It’s tough. I remember going through it when Corporal Pokorny was killed. You try to do what you need to do to go about your daily business. You try to grieve and get through the viewings and the funeral, but it’s hard when you still have a manhunt going on.”
For some community members who came to pay their respects, it was a very personal and emotional.
Holding back tears, Marcella Fisher, of Lower Burrell, said, “Shaw lived in the neighborhood where my in-laws lived. He would always show up for picnics on the patio, and I remember him sitting there last summer, so happy about what he was going to do, serve the community.”
Another mourner, Joe Glabowski, from nearby Harwick, said, “It’s going to be tough. It’s amazing to see all the support here, all the police, firemen and first responders.”
Watch Amy Wadas’s report —
Penn Hills Police Chief Howard Burton said it’s heart wrenching to watch Steffan Shaw grieve the loss of his brother Brian Shaw. Burton and Steffan were at the funeral home Monday for Brian’s viewing.
“You can say he’s in shock,” said Penn Hills Chief Howard Burton. “I can only imagine what the family is going through. Especially mom and dad. They have two sons both working in law enforcement.”
Burton says Steffan, who’s been at the department for a couple of months, wasn’t working the night his brother was gunned down. He was due back to work Tuesday, but will be off the next few days to mourn his brother’s loss.
“All the officers here are supporting him, offering to work shifts for him. Anything they can do to help him out,” said Burton.
As if this pain isn’t enough for the department, Dec. 6 marks eight years since Penn Hills patrolman Michael Crawshaw was killed in the line of duty. He was responding to a call for a disturbance at a home when he was ambushed in his police car. Ronald Robinson was found guilty and convicted in his murder.
“When we lost officer Crawshaw here, I spoke to our officers here and explained to them that we are grieving, we lost a brother officer, but the criminal element on the street doesn’t care,” said Burton.
No matter the obstacles these officers have to face, Burton says they still have a job to do and one they do with pride each and every day.
“It’s not a job it’s a calling,” Burton said. “We are grieving, we are upset, we may be depressed, we can’t let that interfere with the job because that’s how we get hurt then.”
Chief Burton says he will have as many officers as he can at Officer Brian Shaw’s funeral Wednesday morning.
Friends will be received at the Rusiewicz of Lower Burrell Funeral Home from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 21.
The Rusiewicz of Lower Burrell Funeral Home is located at 3124 Leechburg Road.
Prayers of Transfer will be said on Wednesday, Nov. 22, at 9:15 a.m. at the funeral home. Christian Funeral Mass will follow at Mount St. Peter Roman Catholic Church on Freeport Road in New Kensington.
The Lower Burrell Volunteer Fire Department has shared a full list of the road closures that will be in effect during the procession.
Police continue to search for the suspect, 29-year-old Rahmael Sal Holt.