Community says farewell to fallen Shenango police officer
Eugene and Judy Marketich never met Shenango Township police Officer William McCarthy.
They wished they had.
“The whole of New Castle loved him,” Eugene Marketich said, holding a flag with his wife outside their home.
Hundreds in New Castle and Grove City lined main streets on Wednesday to say thank you, goodbye and God bless. Some set up signs in front of businesses.
“We Salute You Officer McCarthy,” read one in front of New Castle's Cialella and Carney Floral Designs and Gift Wrap.
Others grasped flags, held their hands over their hearts and choked back tears as the hearse bearing his casket passed on the way to church and later to the cemetery, followed by a procession of hundreds of police cars and officers from across Pennsylvania and Ohio.
McCarthy, whom many called Jerry, died May 2 when police say a New Castle woman with a suspended driver's license slammed her car into the side of his cruiser during a police chase. Shenango Officer Michael Lynch, the driver of the cruiser, fractured his leg and hip in the crash. With the aid of crutches, he stood at attention outside the church and at graveside.
Kylee Barletto, 25, faces charges of manslaughter of a law enforcement officer, homicide by vehicle and other crimes.
Hundreds of officers traveled to New Castle to honor McCarthy. Cruisers parked three across crowded five blocks of Mill Street. Officers stood at attention in crisp lines down the middle of the street outside St. Vitus Parish. They were from New Castle and Shenango, from Harrisburg and Pittsburgh and from Brookfield and Youngstown, Ohio.
“We're all brothers in blue,” said Youngstown police Officer Rob Foley.
Inside a packed St. Vitus, McCarthy's son Michael read a letter he wrote to his father after his death.
“The other day, I told the kids you were a hero and to remember you as a great man. They just looked at me like, ‘Yeah, we already know that,' ” Michael McCarthy said. “You made a difference, buddy. You made a big difference.”
“This whole city is in mourning,” said Elaine Johnson, who knew McCarthy and listened to his funeral from her porch with her neighbor, Linda Trott, across from the church, where loudspeakers projected audio of the funeral Mass.
McCarthy died on the one-year anniversary of when he became a part-time Shenango officer. He was first sworn in as an auxiliary borough police officer in January 1974. He resigned Jan. 1, 1997, then worked as a security officer for Grove City College.
He grew up in Grove City, where people lined Broad Street as the procession passed on the way to the cemetery beneath an American flag stretched between the ladders of two firetrucks.
In Crestview Memorial Park, a Pennsylvania State Police rifle team of seven officers saluted McCarthy with three volleys of gunshots. After bagpipers played taps and “Amazing Grace,” McCarthy's widow, Patty Jo, overcome with grief, received the flag that draped her husband's casket.
“We lost a very good officer,” said Lisa Campbell, who lives in New Castle but worked with McCarthy for seven years when he was a security officer at Grove City College.
Campbell remembered that McCarthy never said goodbye. He would say “God bless” and “Stay safe, li'l brothers.” As she watched McCarthy's casket wind by, she said those words back to him.
Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or firstname.lastname@example.org.