The Final Farewell

I’m back in the newsroom with Wendy Bell, Tara Edwards and producer Maria Dravecky working on the 11pm newscast. We are looking back at all the videotape that was shot and all the interviews that were done by our reporters and photographers.

I must admit, after six days of covering, reporting and discussing this shooting of these three officers on camera each night, it has been overwhelming and at times, it has not seemed real. Even as I sit here working I wonder did we really experience this tragedy times three?

Then, I snap back to reality. It did happen and I did see it from start to finish. From reporting that cold, fateful morning in Stanton Heights to sitting inside the Petersen Events Center on a picture perfect February day. I saw this story unfold from start to finish and went from seeing unimaginable tragedy to incredible solidarity.  And just like any great story, the final chapter was the best.

I was there at 9:30am at the Petersen Events Center and witnessed a stready stream of officers — from Pittsburgh and from points beyond. From Fresno to Florida and from Boston to Boulder. There were officers from this country and the Great White North, all there to show their support. It wasn’t just one or two officers from each department either. Boston brought a battalion of 150 officers … and I saw four officers from Fresno, all female.

They came with no game plan and no idea what their roles would be, but they were lined up in formation and standing at attention from 11am until the caskets had been escorted into the building. It was an awesome display of unity that, if nothing else, made you feel safe.

I sat inside the arena during much of the ceremony, moved by the words of the speakers. They ran the gambit, from the clegry to the commom man and from lawmakers to law enforcers. They were different in presentation and style, but similar in message and effect: remember these men.

After the ceremony, the officers left and headed to home to their respective communities, armed with the knowledge of what they had seen. Each officer strengthen by the show of unity, aware of the ultimate sacrifice, resolved to do their job even better.

trib-funeral

The final somber farewell: Thursday’s memorial service at the Peterson Events Center ( Tribune-Review )

The final scene for me played out on WTAE. As the families and officers were leaving, Shannon Perrine noticed a young boy walking with his father who is a police officer. The boy, after a nearly three hour service, was skipping and walking playfully and had his father’s police hat on. The hat was clearly too big, but the young boy ( probably 7-8 years old ) didn’t care. He bounded to the top of the stairs, paused and then saluted another officer. It was life-affirming.

A final note:Thanks to all of you, both on-line and on my Facebook page, for allowing me to share the last six days with you. I did not know officers Scuillo, Mayhle and Kelly but now I feel as if I have known them all my life. From being there the day they were killed to the watching the final farewell for these three brave men, I feel as if I have lived a lifetime with them.

I also want to thank all of you for your kind words and praise of the coverage of WTAE. The people here have worked hard to bring you the best and most tasteful coverage we can. It has not been easy. Long hours, difficult circumstances and emotional events can take their toll on the best of us. That’s why I am so proud of all the people that I work with. We too are a family.

I promise to move onto other subjects in the days ahead, manyw ill be lighter in nature. However, I will never forget this week. It has changed me., how I look at our police officers and how I look at our city.

I am very proud to call Pittsburgh home. I always have been but never more so than now.

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