It has been a brutal month for law enforcement in Pennsylvania.
When Thursday afternoon’s shootout in the 1100 block of Forest Street claimed the life of a Lebanon City police officer, it marked the third law enforcement death this month in Pennsylvania.
That’s more line of duty deaths than the police in Pennsylvania experienced through all of 2021.
- 2 Pa. State Troopers, Civilian Killed by Suspected DUI Driver
- Pa. State Police: Fallen Troopers Personified Agency's Core Values
- Driver Charged in Crash that Killed 2 Pa. State Troopers
- Pa. Police Officer Killed, 2 Others Seriously Injured in Shooting
The Lebanon officer, whose name was not released by city officials Thursday, was killed shortly before 4:30 p.m., nearly an hour after police had initially responded to what was dispatched as a domestic violence call. Two other officers were also shot, though they were both considered to be in stable condition as of Thursday night.
Mayor Sherry Capello said the incident remains under investigation and pledged to take more questions at a follow-up press conference Friday.
The Lebanon incident comes just as, in another corner of the state, two Pennsylvania State Police troopers are being laid to rest this week after they were struck by a suspected drunk driver along Interstate 95 in Philadelphia on March 21.
In that incident, Troopers Marty Mack and Branden Sisca were struck and killed shortly before 1 a.m. while responding to a call of a man wandering in traffic along the southbound lanes of the highway. As they were leading that man back to a patrol car, all three were hit by a motorist who tried to pass their stopped police car by driving onto the shoulder.
In a tragic irony, the driver of the striking vehicle, Jayana T. Webb, of Eagleville, Montgomery County, had been pulled over by Mack and Sisca for speeding minutes before. Mack and Sisca had been called off from that stop to seek out the pedestrian, which was considered a higher priority call.
Webb is charged with three counts of third-degree murder, three counts of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, and two counts of second-degree manslaughter of a law enforcement officer.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who attended Mack’s funeral in Levittown earlier Thursday, sent condolences to the Lebanon department at day’s end, writing via Twitter:
“My heart goes out to Lebanon City Police Department. A sobering reminder of the dangers our brave men and women in uniform face day after day. And they keep showing up, running *towards* danger anyway. My thoughts are with the officers and their families.”
Lebanon Chief Todd Breiner tried to put it in perspective after Thursday night’s announcement, noting the loss of a colleague has wounded his entire force: “It’s clearly a traumatic event. Our guys are strong, but we’re human, and we have families, and people were injured today. We’re affected by this, and with the help of our families and every other law enforcement officer around the country we’ll get through it.”
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