Family, Friends Pay Tribute To Slain Pittsburgh Officers


PITTSBURGH,None - Luminaries glowed in the evening sky Monday night as residents in Pittsburgh's Stanton Heights neighborhood gathered to remember three police officers killed in the line of duty two years ago.

A vigil was held at Sunnyside Elementary, where friends and family joined in a moment of silence. Janelle Kelly lost her dad, Officer Eric Kelly, in the shooting. She was just 11 years old at the time.

"I pray every day that he will come back. He was not just my dad, but my best friend. It hurt so much to lose him," said Kelly.

VIDEO: Memorial Unveiled For Officers Killed 2 Years Ago RAW VIDEO: Unveiling Of Slain Officers Memorial PHOTOS: Memorial In Honor Of 3 Pittsburgh Officers Revealed

Kelly, along with officers Paul Sciullo II and Stephen Mayhle, were gunned down on April 4, 2009, when they approached the home of Richard Poplawski, 25.

Poplawski faces first-degree murder charges and the possible death penalty at his June trial. He is accused of shooting the officers and wounding several others who responded to a dispute call phoned in by his mother.

On Monday morning, a memorial honoring the three officers was unveiled after a Mass at St. Joseph's Church along Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield. Sciullo attended the church, which was in the same police zone in which the officers were slain.

"The memorial is done by a local artist, Pittsburgh artist named James Simon. It's a sculpture of Michael, the patron saint of the police, and behind him stands a 5-foot badge with the number 4409, the date the officers were slain," said Pittsburgh councilman Bill Peduto.

The entire base of the statue is a mosaic centered around the three officers' photos.

The officers' families and hundreds of officers and spectators packed the church, while hundreds more lined the street outside where the memorial was unveiled.

"It's touching, very touching," said Kelly's oldest daughter Tameka Phillips. "I was the last person to see him that morning. I think about that every day."

"It's still hard. We still have our moments," said Scuillo's cousin Gregory Scuillo. "We laugh and cry and tell stories. It's still tough."

The garden where the statue sits was dedicated last year and was completed recently after $20,000 was raised by the Fallen Heroes Memorial Committee to cover the cost.

Schillo's cousin, who volunteered to help with the memorial fund, talked to Channel 11 News, saying the family has fully approved the memorial in all its stages.

Also on Monday, Kelly's estate filed a lawsuit against Allegheny County and 911 administrators in connection with the shooting.

After the shooting, investigators determined a 911 call-taker did not tell dispatchers and police that guns were in the house, Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE reported.

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