Slain Delaware officer laid to rest

The rain seemed appropriate on such a somber day, as police officers from up and down the state and around the region paid their last respects to New Castle County Police Lieutenant Joe Szczerba Friday.

Lt. Szczerba’s life was cut short in the line of the duty last week. Szczerba was stabbed after chasing a suspect near the Penn Acres community.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell attended Lt. Szczerba’s funeral at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington and offered his condolences to the 18-year police veteran in his weekly message.

“We grieve for his family, his friends, his fellow officers. His death is a tragedy but his life an inspiration,” said Gov. Markell. “When we think of him today, and when he is remembered for years to come, let us reflect on his strength, let us recall his courage and let us answer with the clarity and conviction he commanded each day… Sergeant Szczerba – we will remember you.”

Hundreds of police officers from Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey turned out Friday, to say their goodbyes. Among them, Georgetown Police Chief William Topping, who lost one of his own officers, Patrolman Chad Spicer, two years ago.

“When we dedicated the Delaware Police Memorial in Dover up on the green, we said then, and we hoped and prayed then, that we would never have to add another name to that wall,” said Chief Topping.

Lt. Szczerba was 44-years-old and is survived by his wife of 19 years, Kathy, his mother Jean and six siblings.

In lieu of flowers, New Castle County Police say memorial contributions may be sent to the following organizations: Faithful Friends, 12 Germay Drive in Wilmington, DE 19804; Delaware Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, Attn: Hilary Taylor, 113 Barksdale Professional Center in Newark, DE 19711; Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research Inc., 110 Possum Hollow Road in Newark, DE 19711; Sunday Breakfast Mission, 110 North Poplar Street, Wilmington, DE 19801.

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