Final Goodbye to Officer John Pawlowski

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- As mourners filed silently by the casket of slain Officer John Pawlowski, they saw in his hand the promise of a new beginning: a sonogram of his unborn son.

It was one of many mementos from the 25-year-old newlywed's life that was tucked into his coffin: a ticket to a rock concert, a deck of cards, a favorite cap. Surrounding him were photo collages, pictures from his honeymoon, and sprays of blue and orange flowers that matched the University of Florida apparel also placed in the casket.

Though Pawlowski's life was unique, the rite for his funeral on Friday was painfully familiar in this city. He is the fifth Philadelphia officer killed in the line of duty in less than a year. In all, seven have died in less than three years.

Pawlowski was fatally shot last week while responding to a fight in the city's Logan section. Officers returned fire and wounded Rasheed Scrugs, who has been charged with Pawlowski's murder.

Sobbing echoed through the cavernous Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul before Pawlowski's sister, Lauren, spoke to the church filled with relatives, friends and hundreds of police officers.

She described her brother as "absolutely an all-American kid," a sports fanatic who especially loved basketball and played so often that his fingertips were bloodied and calloused.

"Now that's a kid that loved to play," she said.

Pawlowski hung out with friends whenever he could; he had the nickname "JP Party" until marriage and impending fatherhood came along, which turned him into "JP Family," his sister said.

When Pawlowski and his wife Kimmy -- who shared their first kiss in fifth grade -- found out they were going to be parents, the officer was "ecstatic" and even began shopping for baby clothes, Lauren Pawlowski said.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told mourners that he could hardly believe the message on his BlackBerry last Friday telling him Pawlowski had been gunned down.

Ramsey said he had just attended a benefit for the family of one slain officer, and was preparing to attend the wedding of a son of a second slain colleague, when he got the news.

"I didn't think it was possible," Ramsey said.

Pawlowski embraced the challenges of the job and voluntarily transferred to the more dangerous district where he was slain, Ramsey said. He noted Pawlowski had received accolades last summer after wrestling a gun away from a felon on city bus.

"You did all you could do," he said of Pawlowski. "Your tour of duty ended far too soon."

Mayor Michael Nutter read a letter of condolence to Pawlowski's widow from President Barack Obama. He also warned those who would threaten the city that Philadelphia's officers are stronger and better trained, and will not be cowed.

"This city is a resilient city," Nutter said. "You cannot beat us."

Since May 2006, five officers have been fatally shot in the line of duty, while two were killed in pursuit-related crashes.

Pawlowski had been on the force for more than five years.

If you would like to donate money to help the family of fallen Police Officer John Pawloski, here's how you can help. Make a check payable to the John Pawlowski family memorial trust fund. Mail it to Police and Fire credit union… 901 Arch street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107.

Contact Us