3rd cop killed in just 2 years

Posted: May 05, 2008

Thursday will be the anniversary of the killing of Police Officer Gary Skerski, who was shot to death May 8, 2006, when he responded to a holdup at a bar in Northeast Philadelphia.

There may be a certain irony in the fact that Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski was shot to death Saturday, five days before that date, while responding to the robbery of a bank.

Liczbinski became the third Philadelphia police officer shot to death in the line of duty in the last two years.

The other was Chuck Cassidy, who was shot and killed on Oct. 31 when he interrupted the robbery of a Dunkin' Donuts store on Broad Street near 66th Avenue, West Oak Lane.

Skerski's murder was the first in the city since Officer Lauretha Vaird, 43, the mother of two, was shot to death Jan. 2, 1996, when she responded to a burglar alarm at the PNC Bank in Feltonville.

Skerski, 46, a 16-year veteran cop who was highly regarded in the Northeast community he patrolled, was working overtime when he and a partner interrupted a holdup at Pat's Cafe, Castor Avenue and Arrott Street. He was hit in the neck with a shotgun blast and died a day later.

Solomon Montgomery, 26, pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

Cassidy, 54, a 25-year veteran and father of three, was shot when he entered the doughnut store. The killer picked up Cassidy's service revolver and ran off.

The suspect, John "Jordan" Lewis, 21, fled to Miami, where he was arrested on Nov. 6. He is awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges. Also injured in the last two years were:

Nov. 28, 2007: Officer Sandra Van Hinkle was shot and wounded in the right leg when she and other police officers tried to disperse a crowd outside a nightclub in University City.

Oct. 30, 2007: Mariano Santiago, 44, was shot in the shoulder in Center City while pursuing an alleged gunman.

Sept. 24, 2007: Richard Decoatsworth, 21, a rookie, was hit in the face with birdshot after a routine traffic stop in West Philadelphia. *

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