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Ceremony honors memory of three Pittsburgh officers killed in shooting

| Friday, April 4, 2014, 8:07 a.m.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Police officers salute during a wreath laying ceremony on Friday, April 4, 2014 in memory of the the three fallen Pittsburgh Police officers from Zone 5. Officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo were killed on April 4, 2009.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Officers line-up to lay a blue flower during a wreath laying ceremony Friday April 4, 2014 in memory of the the three fallen Pittsburgh Police officers from Zone 5.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Officers embrace family members of the fallen during a wreath laying ceremony Friday April 4, 2014 in memory of the the three fallen Pittsburgh Police officers from Zone 5.

Police Officers Eric Kelly, Stephen J. Mayhle and Paul J. Sciullo were remembered on Friday as peacekeepers who died five years ago while attempting to end violence in city neighborhoods.

The Rev. Regis M. Farmer called on residents to emulate that legacy during an anniversary Mass in St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Bloomfield, which Sciullo attended.

“The legacy they leave us is the legacy of hope that things can be better,” said Farmer, the church pastor. “They will not have died in vain if the neighborhoods in which we live become safe. Let us each take responsibility for our own little part of the world. Let us each this day make an effort to recreate the world in love by the way we speak and act.”

Kelly, 41, Mayhle, 29, and Sciullo, 36, were gunned down on April 4, 2009, while answering a domestic violence call at the Stanton Heights home of Richard Poplawski.

Poplawski, 27, was charged with killing the officers and engaging in a day-long gun battle with police. He was convicted in 2011 of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.

About 100 people, including city officials and friends and family of the slain officers, attended the Mass. Earlier in the day, Pittsburgh police honored the officers during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Zone 5 police station to which the three were assigned.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who attended the church service, recalled seeing motorcycle police and ambulances in 2009 as he drove to an event in Heinz Field. He said it was a day he will never forget.

“Today, we remember that there were three officers who gave their lives protecting us,” he said. “We owe it to them to never forget them, and we owe it to their families to remind them that we're going to walk with them every step through the rest of their lives.”

Family members praised Pittsburgh police and officials for helping them cope with the tragedy. They described each anniversary of the killings as gut-wrenching.

“We lost a son, but we gained a family with the Pittsburgh police,” said Sciullo's father, Paul Sciullo Sr.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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