St. Anselm’s Church was at capacity Monday night as the community came together to honor the life of Officer John Pawlowski in a special memorial service.
Many were forced to stand through the service, including Mayor Michael Nutter and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.
The service was the first of many as a heartbroken city begins to say goodbye to one of it's finest.
A life celebration viewing will be held on Thursday, February 19 at the John F. Givnich Funeral Home (10975 Academy Road, Philadelphia) in Northeast Philadelphia beginning at 6 p.m.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, February 20 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter & Paul (1723 Race Street, Philadelphia). A viewing will be held from 7 a.m. - 11 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 12 p.m. Internment will follow funeral services at Resurrection Cemetery (5201 Hulmeville Road, Bensalem).
NBCPhiladelphia.com will be showing Live Video of the entire service on Friday. Click here to sign up to recieve an email alert when coverage begins.
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The Loss of an Officer
Officer Pawlowski, 25, and his partner were shot while responding to a report of a fight at Broad and Olney Streets in North Philly around 8 p.m. Friday.
Pawlowski was struck several times in the chest. He was rushed to Albert Einstein Medical Center where he died. His partner was grazed, but was able to return fire. He struck the suspect.
33-year-old Rasheed Scrugs has been arrested and charged with Pawlowski's murder. He has also been charged with the attempted murder of his partner.
Scrugs, a convicted felon, has nine priors including armed robbery, stolen car and drug arrests, police said. He was attempting to rob a “hack” or unlicensed cab driver when police arrived, according to authorities.
The victim of the attempted robbery told police that Scrugs threatened him saying, “I will shoot you and the police.”
Family Speaks Out
Officer Pawlowski's brother, Cpl. Bob Pawlowski read a brief statement following the memorial service Monday. While fighting back tears, he thanked family and friends for their support as his sister-in-law clutched a photo of John and his wife Kimberly.
"This is obviously a difficult and trying time for our families. Fortunately, we are blessed with very large families, wonderful friends and outstanding neighbors. All of them have come together to support us at this time. We all ask for your good thoughts, your prayers for Johnny, for Kimmy and for their future child," he said.
Cpl. Pawlowski works in the radio room at Police Headquarters. He rushed to the scene of the shooting last Friday night after hearing his brother was in trouble.
A City Heartbroken
At St. Anslem's on Sunday, churchgoers who didn't even know the expecting father expressed their sorrow.
“These guys uniforms aren’t even protecting them. I could just cry,” said one churchgoer who didn’t know the officer.
Facebook has also become a spot for those mourning Officer Pawlowski to grieve together. A group has sprung up that already has more than 10,000 members and some members have posted pictures of the officer.
The scene of the shooting has become a place to mourn and rally. A memorial has been growing since Saturday with strangers and fellow officers stopping by to leave a memento or take a moment to honor his sacrifice.
Others chose to stand in vigil Sunday afternoon, asking for peace.
“We have a handle on what’s causing it. It’s just a disrespect for, not only the law, but for one another,” an activist told the crowd of residents and officers.
Philadelphia taxi drivers opened their hearts and wallets to help the family of the murdered officer, as well.
John Hough of the Taxi Workers Alliance collected money from cabbies outside 30th Street Station Sunday.
They'll continue to raise funds throughout the week.
Strong Words for Criminals
Officer Pawlowski, a newlywed who was expecting his first child, is the fifth Philadelphia Police officer to be killed in the line of duty in the past 10 months. He is a graduate of Archbishop Ryan High School. His father and brother are both Philadelphia Police officers.
Mayor Nutter asked for the public's help in preventing further tragedies Monday night by turning over information about those who have an illegal weapon.
"That person should not have had a weapon. We're not stepping back on these issues at all. We're going to continue pushing forward to make this a safer city, but we need to protect our police officers as well," he said following the officer's memorial service Monday.
The mayor also told NBC10's Steve Highsmith that there never is an excuse for violent offenders who think they can shoot their way out of an encounter with police officers during NBC10 Live at Issue Sunday.
“This is not about violating anyone's 2nd Amendment rights, but the fact of the matter is, is that Pennsylvania has some of the weakest gun safety regulations anywhere in the United States of America,” he said. “This is about politics and playing politics with other people's lives."