Many events honor fallen officers


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They're coming to Pittsburgh from all corners of the country, and beyond.

As many as 1,000 law enforcement agencies from the U.S. and Canada are expected to participate in a Thursday procession and memorial for officers Paul J. Sciullo II, Eric Kelly and Stephen J. Mayhle, who were shot and killed Saturday while responding to a 911 call in Stanton Heights.

"We are getting a lot of condolences from many people throughout the country," Police Chief Nate Harper said yesterday.

He has spoken with the police chief from Oakland, Calif., where four police officers were killed on March 21, the worst loss of life for a U.S. police department since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Police departments in Philadelphia and Boston each plan to send 100 officers to Pittsburgh this week.

"It just sends a chill up your spine," Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan of the Philadelphia police said of the Pittsburgh deaths. "As a commander, you feel a sense of panic."

Philadelphia has lost seven police officers in the last 18 months, and Inspector Sullivan arrived here early yesterday to share his department's experiences in dealing with the aftermaths of those deaths.

Chief Harper and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, speaking at police headquarters, said there will be a private viewing for law enforcement officials tomorrow at the City-County Building, Downtown, from 3 to 4 p.m.

Starting at 4 and continuing overnight until 10 a.m. Thursday, members of the public may pass by the officers' coffins. An honor guard will watch over the officers.

Mr. Ravenstahl said arrangements will be similar to those for Mayor Bob O'Connor, who died in office.

From 11 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, private viewing will be held for family members. Then the procession begins from the City-County Building to the Petersen Events Center on the University of Pittsburgh campus in Oakland. The exact route has not been determined.

All details for the 1 p.m. memorial have not been worked out.

Yesterday afternoon, mourning for the fallen officers started in Bloomfield, where the family of Officer Sciullo received visitors at the Winter Funeral Home.

Police and members of the public lined Friendship Avenue to pay their respects at the home. Fourteen motorcycle officers rode up in unison, and nearly 40 officers from the city's SWAT team, most wearing olive green uniforms, briefly marched up the sidewalk.

Soon afterward, all nine City Council members arrived together.

"The mood inside there is awful," Councilman Jim Motznik said as he exited.

Council members offered to help the family any way they can, "but the one thing they want -- their loved one back -- we can't provide," Mr. Motznik said.

All three officers have been awarded Purple Hearts and medals of valor, city officials said.

The line of mourners for the evening visitation stretched onto the sidewalk of Cedarville Street and down the block toward Liberty Avenue. Residents wrapped in coats stood beside police officers in uniform waiting in the cold to pay their respects.

"He always wanted to be a policeman. He always wanted to serve the community," said Barbara Butch, 60, of Bloomfield, who waited on the sidewalk with her husband, Henry, 65, for well over an hour. Mr. Butch said his mother and Officer Sciullo's grandmother were cousins.

"Bloomfield is that kind of neighborhood," Mrs. Butch said. "Everybody's related almost. The kids went to school together. It's so sad."

The city announced that all of its offices would be closed at 2 p.m. tomorrow and all day Thursday. They were already to be closed for Good Friday.

City Council has canceled all official business this week.

Today, council will gavel in its regular legislative meeting for the sole purpose of honoring the officers, Council President Doug Shields' office announced, but it will conduct no other business. The regular Wednesday council committee meeting is canceled.

Public hearings set for today and tomorrow on zoning matters will be rescheduled.

Council members met early yesterday and felt it was important that they spent time in the community, staff at Mr. Shields' office said.

Gov. Ed Rendell yesterday ordered all Pennsylvania flags on state-owned buildings across the state to be flown at half-staff from now through Saturday to honor the officers.


Rich Lord and Dan Majors contributed to this report. Jerome L. Sherman can be reached at jsherman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1183. First Published April 7, 2009 4:00 AM


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