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Police probing Liberty tragedy

| Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010

Port Vue police Lt. Bryan R. Myers said he still has nightmares about the last time his department investigated a shooting death involving a youngster.

It was five years ago.

“There was the one kid who shot himself with a shotgun,” Myers recalled Monday. “He was 15.”

On Friday, Myers responded to another tragedy. Gavin M. Thompson, 5, was found mortally wounded at his family home in Liberty.

Liberty police Chief Luke Riley said the boy apparently shot himself with a service pistol belonging to the child's father, officer John A. Thompson, a full-time Port Vue and part-time Liberty patrolman.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's office said Monday that the child died of a gunshot wound to the head, but that the manner of death has not been determined pending an ongoing investigation by county homicide detectives.

County police superintendent Charles W. Moffatt's office declined comment about that investigation.

Myers said everyone in his department feels for Thompson, saying such a tragedy could happen to anyone.

“The poor guy has to live with that for the rest of his life,” the Port Vue police lieutenant said. Thompson and his wife Sherrin Lynne also are parents of three other boys and a daughter.

Myers said Thompson has been put on paid administrative leave from the Port Vue force, where he has been a full-time officer for the past three years.

He also was placed on administrative leave in Liberty, where he has served as a part-time officer for the past 10 years.

Thompson also has served with South Allegheny School District, Whitaker and Versailles police forces.

Port Vue police also announced that an account was set up Monday at Copper & Glass Federal Credit Union, 531 Monongahela Ave., Glassport, 15045, to take donations for the family.

Myers said checks can be made out to the Thompson family.

Liberty secretary/treasurer Debbie Helderlein said borough police there posted a container at the municipal office along Liberty Way for those wishing to donate.

Friends of the Thompson family are being received from 6-9 tonight and 2-8 Wednesday at the Gilbert Funeral Home and Crematory Inc. along Smithfield Street in the Boston section of Elizabeth Township.

The Rev. Gerald S. Mikonis, pastor of St. Mark's Roman Catholic parish in Port Vue and Liberty, will officiate at a blessing service Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at the funeral home.

“I've had a lot of police departments from all over that are probably coming to the funeral because it is a police officer's son,” Myers said.

Burial will follow at Round Hill Cemetery in Elizabeth Township.

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