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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Three Officers Wounded in Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack Reflect on Community Support

This Sunday will mark one year since the tragic events at the Tree of Life synagogue, in which 11 members of Tree of Life, New Light and Dor Hadash congregations were killed and several others were injured.

We recognize the significance of the upcoming weekend, and wish to assure everyone attending events or services that Public Safety will be there and that security plans are in place. Pittsburgh Public Safety and our partner law enforcement agencies will work together to ensure that everyone attending events this weekend will be safe.

Many people have expressed interest in hearing from the Pittsburgh Police officers who were injured by gunfire in the synagogue attack. For various reasons, the time is not right for the officers to speak publicly about what they experienced that day.

However, Public Safety would like to provide an update on the officers, including written statements from the three officers who remain off the job as they recover from their serious injuries.

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.

All hope to return soon and rejoin their brother and sister officers.

They also wish to express their gratitude to the public for their prayers and concern.

= From Officer Dan Mead, who suffered a gunshot wound to the hand:

“There’s no reason why I should still be living, but I am and I want to thank everyone for everything they did and continue to do to support me.

“I want to thank the Jewish Community, my family including my sister Diane and my girlfriend Lisa, Pittsburgh Police and all the other police departments, the firemen, the medics, the doctors — everybody. It was a huge team effort and I want to thank everybody for helping me.

“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.

“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.

“I was an officer in the wrong place at the right time. I was never one of these super cops, but when it’s time to take care of business, you take care of business. That’s what we signed up for and that’s what we did.”

= From Officer Anthony Burke, who suffered a gunshot wound to the hand:

“To all those who helped support my fiancée and me over this time of healing, you have my utmost gratitude.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t specifically thank the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh for their enormous and unparalleled support, without which the burden of everyday life would be unbearable. I sincerely cannot thank you enough.

“To the Pittsburgh community and the people who volunteered, donated, and supported my recovery, all I can say is: Yinz are the best.

“To my coworkers and their families, my brothers and sisters in blue in Pittsburgh and from around the country, thank you for watching my six, and thank you for taking care of Sam and me. I can’t wait until I’m back in service running calls alongside you.

“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.”

= From Officer Timothy Matson, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds:

“I would like to thank the community, my friends, family and coworkers, and people from across the world for their support. 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.

“I would like to thank the UPMC staff that took care of me. After the lengthy stay and multiple surgeries the list of people to thank is long, but I would like you all to know that the lengths you went to put me back together and take care of my needs will never be forgotten.

“I would also like thank my Pittsburgh SWAT teammates. Your actions that day are why I’m here.”

On behalf of the officers, Public Safety would like to thank the media for your continued sensitivity in providing the injured officers and their families space and privacy while they recover from their wounds.

During this solemn weekend, Public Safety officials will not conduct interviews or make public comments so as to ensure that the focus remains on the victims, their families and the Jewish community.

Please keep the victims and their families in your prayers this weekend.

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