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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Thank you cards and other well wishes for Pittsburgh Police are literally lining the walls at the Bureau’s Zone 4 station in Squirrel Hill.
The roll call room is lined floor-to-ceiling with thank you cards and letters from a grateful neighborhood, city and nation paying homage to the heroics and bravery of the officers there.
“This is overwhelming support. We thank the community and we hope they know we’re there for their safety,” Pittsburgh Police Zone 4 Commander Daniel Hermann said.
If they didn’t know that before, they certainly know it now. Zone 4 officers responded within a minute of the first report of gunfire at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
Hermann: “That initial response was probably key to the outcome of this event.”
KDKA-TV’s Andy Sheehan: “You definitely saved lives.”
Hermann: “I believe more lives would have been lost, in my opinion.”
Officers Daniel Mead and Michael Smigda confronted alleged gunman Robert Bowers, who — hearing their sirens — was trying to escape after allegedly killing 11 people and wounding two others.
“Those two officers did thwart [Bowers’] flight through the door, and he, at that point, he retreated back inside,” Hermann said.
Bowers shot Mead in the hand and Smigda sustained a shrapnel wound to the head. Just then, Commander Jason Lando arrived from neighboring Zone 5 and took control of the scene.
“He had to make the decision, some pretty important decisions within split seconds, and without that, probably things would have changed too,” Hermann said.
Bowers barricaded himself inside a third-floor office, and once Lando was able to locate him, he ordered in the SWAT team.
In the gunfight that ensued, officers Anthony Burke and Timothy Matson were also shot, but were able to wound Bowers, who crawled to his own surrender.
Commander Hermann says these officers and all the responding officers are the rightful recipients of this outpouring of praise and support.
“All the thank yous that I get, all the handshakes and hugs I get, I would like to transfer over to them,” Hermann said.
As great as the outpouring of support is, it could never be equal to the bravery and heroism of the officers who ran into gunfire and put their lives on the line to save others.
Pittsburgh Police say one of the things they have been overwhelmed by are donations of food. A spokesperson says they appreciate the generosity, but they actually have more than they can possibly eat.
They have released a list of local organizations that could use the donations. That list can be found here: pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2018/11/02/pittsburgh-food-donations-locations-organizations/