"We're like a family here," Chief Joseph Lawrence said last week. "It was like losing a brother for many of the officers. For me it was like losing a son."
The suburban police department, the kind where danger rarely results in death, is learning how to deal with just that for the first time. Fox was the first officer from the department killed in the line of duty.
The trick, it seems, is to make evil's victory as brief as possible until it is consumed by bonds that adversity makes stronger.
Members of the department are coping by helping. Golf outings, hockey games, comedy shows, and other activities have been held by the department and by people outside of it, to raise money for Fox's wife, Lynsay, their 7-month-old daughter, Kadence, and the boy (he will be Bradley Jr.) who is due in March. More fund-raisers are planned.
Colleagues who visit Lynsay Fox do unglamorous chores her husband might have done, such as making sure a sump pump worked before Hurricane Sandy hit.
'Where it stays'
Fox's colleagues continue to report to duty. Early last Monday morning, they went to an industrial area near where Fox was killed to check on an open gate. They responded to a security alarm that went off at a business and recovered a stolen vehicle.
Lawrence, a Navy veteran, tall with dark hair, sits behind his desk. On one of his office walls hangs Fox's gun belt and 12-gauge rifle.
Lawrence uses few words to reject a request to move the belt for a photo. "It was taken off of him, I hung it up there, and that's where it stays."
The chief was in South Jersey with his wife on Sept. 13 when he got a call from his deputy.
"It's the phone call you never want to get," said the 34-year law enforcement veteran. He sped back to the township.
'A new normal'
Fox was directing traffic around an accident on Ridge Pike. It was an unspectacular task until Andrew C. Thomas, 44, a Bala Cynwyd ex-convict said to have vowed he would never return to prison, ignored Fox's directions and swerved what turned out to be a stolen SUV into the opposing lane to get around stopped traffic.
Thomas sped away. Fox gave chase. After ramming a car, Thomas ditched the SUV and ran to an area near the Schuylkill Trail and hid behind tall grass on a small rise.
With Fox in pursuit, Thomas fired his Beretta handgun four times. One bullet hit Fox in the head, another grazed K-9 Nick. (The dog survived and recently was given to the Fox family.)
Thomas then shot himself dead.
In the intervening weeks, Lawrence says, "a new normal" has settled in at the department. His officers are not naive, he said, but losing one of your own makes it clear that it is not only "other cops" who are shot.
K-9 Officer Eric Ponzek wiped his eyes as he recalled how he and colleagues hung out at the hospital where Fox was taken.
"I guess it was a natural reaction to stay together, and that's where everybody was until Brad was loaded up by the coroner," he says.
Ponzek worked on the same squad as Fox for two years before they became K-9 officers. They played hockey together and downed beers after work.
They both served in Iraq - Fox as a Marine, Ponzek for the Army. In Iraq, Fox once narrowly missed being killed by an IED.
Ponzek, 32, says he thinks about Fox every day: "The guy's locker is two away from mine."
Fox's locker is sealed shut. On its door is a decal of his police shield, a black and blue band across its middle, his name, the date he was hired (Sept. 10, 2007) and his end-of-watch date, the day he was killed.
Ponzek channels his anger over Fox's death by organizing some fund-raisers, including Saturday's "First Annual Brad Fox Hockey Game" at the University of Pennsylvania Rink. Proceeds will go to the Fox family.
Officer Michael Capperella, 40, is angry about more than Fox's death.
"He [the shooter] did the coward thing, which was to kill a cop, and then he did the extra coward thing to kill himself," Capperella says.
By committing suicide, Capperella says, Thomas robbed Fox's colleagues of watching him held accountable in court.
Capperella and his wife were close to Fox and his wife. Before Brad and Lynsay had Kadence, they treated Capperella's son as if he were their own.
Cappy, as he's called, pointed out the memorials to Fox at the station. In the parking lot sits Fox's cruiser, now retired from normal duty and decorated with a strip of the black and blue tape and the rooftop light bar sheathed in black cloth.
At the site where Fox was shot, the grass has been cut and stones put down in the shape of a shield. The memorial includes a white wooden cross, a Marine flag, hockey sticks, and notes from well-wishers.
Capperella stood above the memorial, near where the gunman hid. He, like his chief, still thinks about the if-onlys.
If only Thomas kept running. If only Thomas had not raced by the stopped traffic in the first place.
If only Thomas had not been the murderer of a fine husband, father, and brother in blue.
Contact Carolyn Davis
at 610-313-8109, email@example.com, or @carolyntweets on Twitter.
Information on fund-raisers
for the Fox family is at http://www.officerbradfox.com.