Hundreds come to Lower Burrell for Brian Shaw Memorial Fund event
Overcast skies in Lower Burrell on Saturday afternoon did nothing to temper the early turnout for the annual fundraiser celebrating the life of slain New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw.
The fundraiser — the prelude to a motorcycle ride next weekend — helps raise money for the Brian Shaw Memorial Fund, which offers scholarships to high school and college students pursuing law enforcement careers.
Shaw, 25, was shot and killed during an attempted traffic stop and foot chase on Leishman Avenue.
It was a stunning loss to the area, particularly Lower Burrell, where Shaw was raised and attended high school, said David Magill, the owner of Mogie’s Irish Pub where the fundraising event was held.
“He was just a nice kid — he was a good kid, he was a good friend, and we all became very attached to him from the time he was young,” Magill said.
Dozens of patrons on the pub’s patio took in live music — the musicians’ time all donated for the event — and more kept cool from the humidity inside. The memorial and celebration lasted into the night, with live music and other events on the docket until midnight.
Amber Adda, Magill’s top assistant, sent volunteers into the Alle-Kiski Valley to secure donations for the silent auction. They ended up with more than 120 baskets.
Vikki Randa of Harrison’s Natrona neighborhood was among those volunteers.
“It just touched my heart,” she said of Shaw’s death and the community’s outpouring of support in the aftermath. “This is what we do. We take something bad and we make it good. It’s not about what went wrong, it’s now about bringing the community together in a good way.”
More than a fundraiser, though, it is a chance to celebrate Shaw’s life and memory, Magill said.
“It means everything for this community, which has lost two officers,” he said, referencing Lower Burrell patrolman Derek Kotecki, who was killed in the line of duty in 2011. “It’s been kind of tough on those of us who were close to both families, but we rally around them and we rally around their events.”
Stephanie Staley attended high school with Shaw, and their families were lifelong friends. She said Shaw would have delighted in seeing his community come together.
It started right after his death, she said: The community came together, moving forward with the first fundraiser last summer. She called it a huge success and said this year was already bigger — and it was only 3 p.m.
“To see all the support and everyone coming together, I know that Brian would be so happy to see that,” she said.
“It’s such a tragedy what happened, however Brian was such an outgoing person,” Staley continued. “I feel like he would want nothing more than for everyone to be celebrating together and bringing the community together.”
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter .