Fallen Police Chief Justin McIntire, Officer Sean Sluganski honored, added to national memorial

WASHINGTON — Every day, law enforcement officers are called to serve. But on Monday night, Channel 11 saw the impact of that service right on the National Mall as our two local heroes are now forever etched into history for their sacrifice.

“Sean is the reason that I’m here today, he gave his life and saved mine so until my last day on earth I’ll honor Sean Sluganski,” said Officer Chuck Thomas, a survivor with the McKeesport Police Department.

It’s that emotion in a crowd lit only by candlelight.

“Sean would be speechless. I don’t even think we even realize this happens every year until his passing,” said his sister Sarah Griener.

Our local fallen heroes McKeesport Officer Sean Sluganski and Brackenridge Chief Justin McIntire are remembered on the national level, their families standing proud at the foot of the nation’s capital.

“They lost a relative, they lost their son, their father their best friend their brother to the city of McKeesport and the least we can do is show support for them,” Thomas said.

Support came from all fronts for both officers. Seeing McIntire’s name etched alongside 24,000 other fallen heroes was a moment for his wife, Ashley. As she touched his name, she told Channel 11′s Nicole Ford like Justin, she doesn’t love the spotlight but wants the public to know this:

“Being here in Washington D.C. is surreal. I never could have imagined coming here for my own husband. But the reality is here we are. Here we are remembering a life taken way too soon in a senseless act of gun violence. Getting to see his name on the wall is so heartbreaking yet such an honor. Seeing all of these officers come show their respect and honor all their fallen brothers and sisters is just so amazing. Justin deserves to always be remembered for being the hero he is.

“I will always be proud to have been Justin’s wife, he was truly an honorable and sincere human, especially at what he loved doing and that was his job. I know he chose his career. I know he chose to walk out our front door and risk his life every single day. But I also know it shouldn’t have to be this way. No officer’s life should be at risk. He didn’t sign up to be murdered. He signed up to protect and serve his community. He didn’t sign up to make his wife a widow. He didn’t sign up to leave his children without a father. None of these officers signed up for that.

“Through all of this, I have learned how this world is very broken. Darker than I ever could have imagined or can even comprehend. But I also learned how many great people there are and because of them, they made it a little easier to get through all of this. To know this will never get easier but we just get stronger.”

At the end of each day, no one serves alone, as shown by the light of these survivors.

“It’s overwhelming. It truly is so overwhelming, but you have the support from people all over the country who have experienced grief and loss like we have and that really gives you hope moving forward,” Griener said.

Part of “National Police Week” is connecting the survivors with each other and resources to support them in this journey. On Tuesday, they will split off and attend workshops and on Wednesday they will be back at the capitol for a memorial service.

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