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Supporters Urged to Line Funeral Route Tuesday

Signs available at McKeesport locations; proceeds will benefit slain officer’s family

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
February 12, 2023
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A McKeesport patrol car has been decorated with bunting and parked at the city’s war memorial on Lysle Boulevard in honor of Officer Sean Sluganski, 32, who died Feb. 6. A city man has been charged with fatally shooting Sluganski and seriously wounding Officer Chuck Thomas Jr., 35. (Tube City Almanac photo)

After the murder of Brackenridge police Chief Justin McIntire in January, North Hills attorney Ed Kress distributed signs throughout the community saying “We support our police.”

He was hoping not to have to repeat the gesture for a long time.

But Kress and former state Rep. Marc Gergely of White Oak, who were fraternity brothers at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, found themselves pressed into service again after McKeesport police Officer Sean Sluganski was shot to death on Feb. 6, and fellow Officer Chuck Thomas Jr. was injured.

This weekend, they've been working hard to get up to 1,500 signs distributed along the planned route of Sluganski’s funeral on Tuesday.

The signs are on sale for $20 each at Di’s Kornerstone Diner at Olympia Shopping Center and Lampert’s Deli on Eden Park Boulevard, Gergely said. Thanks to donations from members of the community, he said, all of the proceeds from the sales will go to the Sluganski family.

The funeral procession route will include Brownsville Road in Brentwood, Churchview Avenue in Baldwin Borough, portions of Route 51 in Baldwin, Brentwood and Whitehall, Lebanon Church Road in West Mifflin, Curry Hollow Road in Pleasant Hills, and West Fifth Avenue, Lysle Boulevard, Walnut Street, Eden Park Boulevard and Hartman Street in the city.

“My goal with the signs is to show support to that family,” said Kress, a former Allegheny County councilman. “I’m an attorney and I handle estates, and I also remember when my own parents died — it felt so good to have people come in and express their condolences.”

“The community is grieving as much as anyone,” said Gergely, adding that residents want to show their support for police officers and their families. “Our feeling is, let’s try to make something good out of this.”

Kress is a Republican, while Gergely is a Democrat, but both said the effort to support local police following the tragedy crosses all political and philosophical lines.

“I wanted our police officers to know that we support them,” Kress said. “They go out there and work and feel like they're not appreciated. It was my goal was to let communities know that the men and women who patrol our streets are our neighbors, and are appreciated, and we care about the sacrifices they make for us.”

Donors who have paid for the printing of the signs, as of this writing, include Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein; Teamsters Local Unions 205 and 249; McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko; State Sen. Jim Brewster; State Rep.-Elect Matt Gergely; State Reps. Andrew Kuzma, Nick Pisciottano and Ron Mercuri; All Pro Plumbing; Allegheny County Council Members Bob Macey and Sam DeMarco; the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades Local 57; attorneys Joseph Murphy, Phil DiLucente and Gary Topolosky, and Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 9; Three Rivers Repair & Protection; Storms Restaurant; RC Mechanical; Allegheny County Sheriff Kevin Kraus; and others who have asked to remain anonymous, Gergely and Kress said.

The painters’ union also has created a memorial banner to be hung above the parade route, Gergely said.

This banner, donated by the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades Local 57, will be displayed along the funeral procession on Tuesday, Gergely said. (Submitted photo)

Kress, who was distributing signs on Saturday around the Brentwood area, near the funeral home where friends of Sluganski were gathering, hopes that persons who plan to line the funeral procession route through McKeesport will get a sign and hold it as family and friends pass by.

The power of the signs, he said, “comes from the people in their beliefs and their willingness to express them ... it's just for someone to express how they feel about their police. And we support our police.”

Originally published February 12, 2023.

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