MCKEESPORT, Pa. — At the McKeesport Police Department, two black wreaths hang in the doorway mourning the loss of one of their officers but also rallying and praying for another officer, Charles Thomas.
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“I try to pray every day and ask God for their protection,” said Thomas’s neighbor Marjory Rost.
Rost said every morning she prays for Officer Thomas, but said this morning that the prayer was a little longer after learning that he was one of two officers shot Monday afternoon.
“I know God’s protecting him and watching over him because I asked and I prayed,” Rost said.
Thomas suffered a gunshot wound to the face and neck. He was flown to UPMC Mercy and was later released from the hospital.
“I think he is the right combination for a police officer of toughness and compassion,” said Jim Barry the CEO of LaRosa Youth Club.
Jim Barry who runs LaRosa Youth Club said he has known Officer Thomas, or “Officer Chuck” as the kids call him, for many years.
“He is always looking to help other people out especially children, and he makes a difference in a lot of kids’ lives in this community,” said Barry.
He said Thomas is always offering a helping hand, and if no one else shows up he can rely on Chuck to be there for the kids.
Down the road, the owners of a local deli -said Officer Thomas always wears a smile and shared their support for the entire force.
“He’s so personable, so kind,” said Jan Kugler, the owner of Lampert’s Fine Meat and Deli.
“Chuck was in here all the time, it’s just so devastating,” said owner Rick Kugler.
The two plan to send care packages to both the Thomas and Slunganski families, and for now, continue to remember the good times.
“We are there for them as much as they are there for us,” Jan Kugler, said.
Officer Thomas is at home recovering, and everyone we spoke with here in McKeesport says they can’t wait to see him back out on the streets.
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