Department of Public Safety shares officer update
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Oct. 27Officers encourage community to support families

Department of Public Safety shares officer update

First responders thank community for year of support.

Police respond to the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Oct. 27, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Police respond to the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Oct. 27, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety issued an update pertaining to the officers injured at the Tree of Life building during last year’s attack.

In a statement shared Oct. 24, the Department of Public Safety noted, “Officers Michael Smidga (shrapnel wound to the head), John Persin (hearing concerns/issues), and Tyler Pashel (knee injury) have all recovered and are back on the job. Zone 4 Officer Dan Mead and SWAT Officers Anthony Burke and Timothy Matson continue to recover from their wounds and have not returned to work.”

The Department of Public Safety shared additional statements from officers Matson, Mead and Burke. Matson, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds, thanked the community, the UPMC staff, his friends, family, coworkers and wellwishers worldwide.

“The support I received was incredible. I have never experienced anything like it. In more ways than I can express, your support helped me through the toughest time of my life,” said Matson. “I would also like to thank my Pittsburgh SWAT teammates. Your actions that day are why I’m here.”

Mead, who suffered a gunshot wound to the hand, echoed praise for those who helped him.

“The Jewish community’s support and the ways they have shown their appreciation — I’m not used to that. As a carpenter, I would do a job and you’d say, ‘Hey, nice job,’ and I’d leave and go do the next job. But they have been so appreciative, and it’s overwhelming. They’re saying thank you, but I need to say thank you to them,” said Mead. “My father was on this job and I looked up to him and that’s why I signed up to be a police officer. I tried for this job. I wasn’t drafted into it. These poor people that lost their lives and their families, they didn’t sign up for that. Not a day goes by that I don’t say my prayers for these people. I feel for them.”

Burke, who suffered a gunshot wound to the hand, similarly thanked those who lent assistance during the past year, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the larger Pittsburgh community, his coworkers and their families.

“While my period of healing is coming to an end, there are 11 families who continue to grieve and heal. Please direct your continued support towards them during this tragic weekend and going forward,” said Burke.  PJC

Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

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