Family, Strangers Mourn Officer Pawlowski

Nutter to criminals: No excuse

Family, friends and strangers sat solemnly inside St. Anselm’s Church as they mourned the loss of Officer John Pawlowski during mass Sunday.

“These guys uniforms aren’t even protecting them. I could just cry,” said one churchgoer who didn’t know the 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 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.”

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.

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.

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 Michael Nutter 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.”

Details for Officer Pawlowski's funeral were released Sunday afternoon.

A memorial mass will be held Monday evening at the officer's church. A life celebration and viewing will be held on Thursday at the Givnich Funeral Home. A funeral mass and burial will follow on Friday. For complete details on the funeral arrangements, click here.

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