Shirts honoring fallen New Kensington police officer sell fast
While the two-week-old floral arrangements outside the New Kensington police station have faded, the outcry and show of support over the shooting death of Officer Brian Shaw is continuing.
The supply of T-shirts memorializing Shaw was tripled about a week ago, ahead of a public sale of the shirts held Saturday at New Kensington's and Lower Burrell's municipal buildings.
Sales were brisk Saturday afternoon at both locations, with some sizes selling out, volunteers said.
People stood in lines, and those running a sale in Lower Burrell said there will be no sales there on Sunday because shirts sold out in two hours. In New Kensington, preorders will be taken Sunday.
One anonymous donor purchased $500 worth of shirts and gave another $500 to Shaw's memorial fund, according to Joe Locke, a patrolman who was working the New Kensington sale on Saturday.
“We are definitely going to need more T-shirts,” said Dana Robinson of Upper Burrell, who went to New Kensington to buy 10 of them.
Zack Albert, salesman for Tees N' Tops in Vandergrift, which is producing the T-shirts at cost, said the “pre-sale of the shirts must have gone well because the order, which started out with 500 shirts 10 days ago, jumped to just over 1,600 just a few days later.”
Through donations from several local families and businesses, sales of T-shirts featuring Shaw's number 29 police badge and the Latin phrase “non timebo mala,” meaning “I will fear no evil,” will benefit the Officer Brian Shaw Memorial Fund.
Before the 3 p.m. sale started, several area residents showed up at New Kensington City Hall to make sure they could buy the shirts later in the day.
“It's a tragedy what happened, and we have to show our respect,” Dan Stauffer, 69, of Harrison said of Shaw's Nov. 17 fatal shooting.
Stauffer, a retired firefighter for East Deer, added that Shaw and others “put their lives on the line every day for people they don't know.”
Eugene Ignozzi, 64, of New Kensington was buying four shirts to outfit his three sons.
“I was born and raised here, and Officer Shaw's shooting broke my heart,” he said.
Ignozzi said he has been disheartened by low attendance for neighborhood meetings, which are supposed to strengthen the network of citizens involved in reporting criminal activity.
“I was on Facebook, and some are raising hell about the shooting,” Ignozzi said. “But I asked them, ‘when are you at the meetings?' ”
Shasta Bassett of Lower Burrell helped organize the memorial fund and T-shirt sales.
The daughter of retired Lower Burrell police Sgt. Ted Meixelsberger, Bassett helped establish a scholarship fund and a memorial golf tournament named for Derek Kotecki, the Lower Burrell officer shot to death while on duty six years ago.
Bassett said another officer's death is a tragedy the community didn't need.
Lower Burrell police Chief Tim Weitzel said support for Kotecki has meant a lot.
“The law enforcement community is very appreciative when anyone chooses to support us, especially when a police officer has made the highest sacrifice any officer can make,” he said. “These shirts ... help to ensure that Officer Shaw's sacrifice will be remembered long into the future. I can assure you that I am grateful to this day any time I see someone wearing an Officer Kotecki shirt knowing that he is remembered.”