Driver Charged With 3rd Degree Murder, DUI in Philly Officer's Death

23-year veteran survived by wife, 3 children

By Lauren DiSanto and Karen Araiza
|  Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012  |  Updated 5:14 PM EDT
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Fallen Philadelphia police officer Brian Lorenzo was a man who loved his family, loved being a cop and loved the city of Philadelphia. NBC10's Katy Zachry talked exclusively to Lorenzo's uncle.

NBC10 Philadelphia, Katy Zachry

Fallen Philadelphia police officer Brian Lorenzo was a man who loved his family, loved being a cop and loved the city of Philadelphia. NBC10's Katy Zachry talked exclusively to Lorenzo's uncle.

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Witness Recounts Crash That Killed Philly Cop

One of the first witnesses to arrive at the scene of the deadly crash that killed Philadelphia Cop Brian Lorenzo speaks only to NBC10 about what she saw that morning.

DUI Investigation for Man Charged With Officer's Death

Veteran Philadelphia Police Officer Brian Lorenzo was killed while off-duty on Sunday morning. Lorenzo was heading home on I-95 when he was hit by a car going down the highway the wrong way. State police have charged John Leck with the homicide and he is under investigation for DUI. NBC10's Katy Zachry reports.
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The man accused of drinking and driving the wrong-way down I-95 early Sunday morning and then crashing into and killing a Philadelphia police officer, has been formally arraigned in his hospital bed.

Police Officer Brian Lorenzo, 48, was headed home after his shift Sunday around 3:15 a.m. when the wrong-way car slammed into his motorcycle, killing him in a head-on crash at the Cottman Avenue interchange.

"It just appears that Officer Lorenzo had absolutely no chance to evade this male and it's just a sad, sad day for us in the Philadelphia Police Department," said Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. during a Sunday afternoon press conference.

"It was so scary, it was the scariest thing I've ever seen in my life," said witness Rita Nisivoccia. "I saw a motorcycle completely engulfed in flames. The next thing that I saw after that was the car."

Police say John Leck, Jr., 47, was behind the wheel of the car. He's from Levittown. Leck went to the hospital after the accident. On Monday he had foot surgery. Tuesday, Leck was arraigned in his hospital bed and charged with Third Degree Murder, Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence, Aggravated Assault, Homicide by Vehicle and Involuntary Manslaughter.

Leck is being held without bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 25. NBC10's Katy Zachry spoke to Leck's brother-in-law, a Maryland police sergeant, by phone on Tuesday. He said the family cannot put into words how shocked they are -- they say they have never, ever seen Leck intoxicated.

T.G.I. Friday's in Bensalem confirms to NBC10 that Leck was drinking at their restaurant the night before the accident. T.G.I. Friday's sent NBC10 this statement late Monday:

"This is a very tragic incident, and our condolences are with the relatives and friends of Officer Lorenzo. The company is currently conducting an internal investigation and is cooperating fully with the authorities. Our employees are committed to the responsible service of alcohol in all of our restaurants."

Officer Lorenzo was a 23-year veteran of the force and is survived by his wife and three children, aged 24, 22, and 4. His younger brother is a Philadelphia Police Officer in the 25th District.

"He would escort the families on his motorcycle, the families of deceased officers and now unfortunately it's going to be his family that's going to be escorted," said Tim Henehan, Bensalem Police Motor Patrol, who also said Lorenzo had a lot of pride in his job.

"Words can't begin to capture the emotions that we feel right now, we love all our officers obviously, as we know the citizens of Philadelphia do, but it's just tragic. I mean this particular Officer was well-known by many from the Commissioner, myself and everyone standing behind me, so it makes it even tougher," said Ross.

Lorenzo's body was given a police escort on Sunday as he was taken from the office of the medical examiner to the Givnish Funeral Home in Northeast Philadelphia.

"He served the community with honor, with distinction and so the guys are going to miss him, they love him, and what I ask the community and anyone that cares is to send out prayers to his family and not just his family but his policing family because we are going to need it," said Captain Melvin Singleton, Philadelphia Police.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter issued a statement on Sunday, ordering all City flags to be lowered to half-staff for the next 30 days in honor of Lorenzo.

"I ask all Philadelphians to reflect on Brian’s service, to remember him in their prayers and to share their thoughts and condolences with his wife and family and the thousands of Philadelphia police officers who ensure our safety each and every day and who have suffered a terrible loss," said Mayor Michael Nutter.

Interstate 95 was closed between Bridge Street and Academy Road during the investigation. It was re-opened shortly after noon Sunday.

Here is the viewing and funeral information: A public wake for Lorenzo is planned for 6 p.m. Thursday night at the Givnish Funeral Home on Academy Road. On Friday, a second viewing will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul at 1723 Race Street. Mayor Michael Nutter and family members will begin speaking at 11:15 a.m.

Officer Lorenzo's funeral mass begins at noon.

The Fraternal Order of Police has set up a fund to help Officer Lorenzo's family. Donations can be made at any Police and Fire Federal Credit Union branch in the name of "Brian Lorenzo Memorial Fund."

One of the suspect's neighbors describes Leck and his mother as "very, very good people." Linda Galanos told NBC10's Katy Zachry on Monday, "I've never known John to even drink at all." Galanos said Leck's mother lives with him and that she is having heart surgery this week.


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