A bittersweet moment

Thought the pain will nev­er end for the loved ones left be­hind by fallen po­lice of­ficers, a spe­cial de­liv­ery makes their hol­i­days a little bit bright­er.

The hol­i­days are a bit­ter­sweet time for fam­il­ies who’ve pre­ma­turely lost loved ones, es­pe­cially if the in­di­vidu­als  are taken in sud­den and tra­gic ways.

Fraternal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge 5 and at­tor­ney James J. Binns have re­membered the fam­il­ies of fallen of­ficers dur­ing the East­er, Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas sea­sons since 2008.

Dozens of vehicles from po­lice de­part­ments throughout the Phil­adelphia area take part in a cara­van that de­liv­ers hol­i­day meals to sur­viv­ing fam­ily mem­bers.

“It’s a happy and sad mo­ment at the same time,” said Mar­itza Mo­ha­mad, a po­lice of­ficer whose sis­ter and fel­low of­ficer, Isa­bel Naz­ario, was killed in Septem­ber 2008 when her squad car was hit by a stolen, speed­ing Ca­dillac Es­cal­ade driv­en by a 16-year-old boy in West Phil­adelphia. “It re­opens wounds.”

Judy Cas­sidy and her three young adult chil­dren feel the same way. Things haven’t been quite the same since Chuck Cas­sidy was shot to death in the fall of 2007 when he in­ter­rup­ted an armed rob­bery at a West Oak Lane Dunkin’ Donuts.

Still, they are glad the FOP and Binns pay a vis­it dur­ing the hol­i­days.

“It’s nice that they re­mem­ber,” said Judy Cas­sidy, who lives on Wil­lits Road. “They can’t do enough for every­body.”

That was the same feel­ing at Naz­ario’s house on Welsh Road in Holmes­burg. The vis­it­ors were greeted by Mo­ha­mad and the fallen of­ficer’s col­lege-age daugh­ter, Jazmin, and moth­er, Pa­tri­cia San­ti­ago.

“I feel happy that they re­mem­ber my daugh­ter,” San­ti­ago said.

The meal de­liv­er­ies took place on Tues­day and Wed­nes­day, Nov. 22-23. Lodge 5 pres­id­ent John McNesby and Phil­adelphia po­lice brass were among those mak­ing the de­liv­er­ies.

Usu­ally, most of the cara­van is made up  of mo­tor­cycles. However, be­cause of the rain, squad cars were used.

Tur­keys and side items were de­livered on Nov. 22 to the fam­il­ies of the fol­low­ing fallen of­ficers:

• Gary Sker­ski, the 15th Po­lice Dis­trict com­munity re­la­tions of­ficer who was shot to death in 2006 while re­spond­ing to an armed rob­bery at a North­wood bar. Anne Sker­ski, his wid­ow, now lives in New Jer­sey.

• Chris Jones, a Middletown Town­ship, Bucks County of­ficer who was struck and killed on Route 1 while mak­ing a traffic stop in Janu­ary 2009.

• Joseph Szczerba, a New Castle County (Del.) ser­geant fatally stabbed in the neck in Septem­ber by a man after re­spond­ing to a dis­orderly con­duct call.

On Nov. 23, the group met at the Phil­adelphia Po­lice Academy be­fore de­part­ing for Sunnybrook Golf Club in Ply­mouth Meet­ing for break­fast with po­lice chiefs, in­clud­ing Phil­adelphia Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey.

Be­sides the stops at the homes of Naz­ario and Cas­sidy, the cara­van vis­ited the homes of the fol­low­ing of­ficers:

• Wal­ter Barclay, who was shot and para­lyzed by a burg­lary sus­pect in Ol­ney in 1966. He died of com­plic­a­tions of the wound in 2007.

• Steph­en Liczb­in­ski, a Burholme res­id­ent who was shot to death in May 2008 in Port Rich­mond while try­ing to ap­pre­hend bank rob­bers.

• John Pawlowski, who was shot to death in Feb­ru­ary 2009 dur­ing a dis­pute between two men at Broad Street and Ol­ney Av­en­ue.

• John Marynow­itz, who was shot and crit­ic­ally in­jured in 1993 in West Oak Lane when he and part­ner, Robert Hayes, stopped a gypsy cab that was driv­en by an il­leg­al im­mig­rant from Haiti and con­tained drugs. Hayes was killed.

• Patrick Mc­Don­ald, of Mor­rell Park, who was shot to death in North Phil­adelphia in Septem­ber 2008 by 27-year-old Daniel Gid­dings, a pa­rolee whose life of vi­ol­ent crime star­ted when he was 10.

• Ricky Bowes, of Somer­ton, who was shot in the hip by Gid­dings be­fore re­turn­ing fire and killing the mur­der­er of Patrick Mc­Don­ald.

• An­drew Stack­wicz, a 22nd Po­lice Dis­trict ser­geant and East Tor­res­dale res­id­ent who died of a heart at­tack in Oc­to­ber 2008 some­time after a foot pur­suit in North Phil­adelphia.

• Timothy Simpson, a Holme Circle res­id­ent who was killed in Port Rich­mond in Novem­ber 2008 when his squad car was struck by a stolen car whose driver was elud­ing po­lice. The sus­pect, Wil­li­am Foster, pleaded guilty to third-de­gree murder and was sen­tenced last month to 19 to 40 years in pris­on. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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