New Memorial Unveiled Honoring Three Fallen Officers
Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette Friends and family members view the mural in the lobby of the Zone 5 police station after the first anniversary ceremony for officers Paul J. Sciullo II, Stephen J. Mayhle and Eric G. Kelly, who were killed in the line of duty la
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via YellowBrix
April 07, 2010
PITTSBURGH – At first their eyes were dry, even as bagpipes wailed and a police chaplain spoke of their enduring heartache.
But the moment honor guards emerged with photographs of the three fallen officers’ stoic faces, grief washed through the crowd of police, their families and friends.
The tears during Friday’s remembrance seemed as fresh as those shed a year ago for Officers Paul J. Sciullo II, Stephen J. Mayhle and Eric G. Kelly. But this time, the tears broke for laughter as mourners tried to celebrate the officers’ lives without dwelling on their deaths.
Relatives and friends told of their humor, their family pride, their devotion to police work. Outside the Zone 5 station in Highland Park, hundreds of officers and dignitaries, children and retirees gathered in the warmth of a brilliant sun and recalled happier times, though the shadow of the deadly shooting in Stanton Heights loomed.
“What happened on that date to me is still unfathomable, incomprehensible, unimaginable and reprehensible,” the Rev. John Welch said, encouraging the crestfallen not to let the incident hold them captive as the anniversary renews a pain that none could say has vanished.
Black ribbons masked officers’ badges just as they did a year ago. Police radios whispered during moments of silence.
One by one, a host of speakers offered their own tributes over the hum of afternoon traffic. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl asked the crowd to remember the officers each day for years to come. Fraternal Order of Police President Dan O’Hara said he was grateful for the community’s overwhelming support. Police Chief Nathan Harper said that, in passing, the officers left behind a “recipe for living” that calls for daily doses of gratitude, peace, patience and brotherhood.
“We have come to know that these were three distinctive yet extraordinary men who were great beacons of light that were extinguished much too soon,” the chief said. “It is important that we do not give in to the sadness we feel today.”
Close friends and relatives shared stories that filled the air with welcome laughter.
Anthony Walls said his cousin, Officer Kelly, would play in Sunday softball games, heading to the field after his overnight shift. Officer Michael Gay said he was an inspiration during the rigors of police academy.
“He said, ‘The only person that can make you quit is you,’ " he recalled.
Special Agent Eric Zarren recalled Officer Sciullo, his brother-in-law, as a “ringer,” who excelled on the athletic field and at home from the time he was a 14-year-old to the time he first wore the uniform.
“I loved to show Paul off every chance I could,” he said.
Officer Aaron Fetty spoke of Officer Sciullo’s quick wit.
“You want to express your apologies, and you want to say how much you care, but you can never find the right words to put together,” he said. “Nobody can ever have the right words.”
And Officer Mayhle’s wife, Shandra, fought tears as she said that “fallen hero” doesn’t fully describe “the husband who made my life complete.”
“He loved me unconditionally, supported me unwaveringly and teased me mercilessly,” she said. “On April 4, 2009, Stephen showed the world, with those of us that knew and loved him already knew, that he was a man to be respected, admired, but most of all, celebrated.”
The service ended with the unveiling of three small memorial pillars outside the doors of the station, bearing images of each officer in bronze. The three appear together on a fourth marker, along with a message:
“This memorial stands to remind all who enter of the ultimate sacrifice made by Zone 5 officers on April 4, 2009. May their spirits guide and guard us against all who would seek to do us harm.”