Slain New Castle officer laid to rest

NEW CASTLE, Del. - September 23, 2011

It was a dreary, gray day, but the turnout was still enormous as people came out to pay their respects to the fallen officer.

The procession arrived at the Chase Center in South Wilmington around 9:00 a.m. Friday. It included hundreds of police and fire department honor guards, who turned out from agencies all across the Mid-Atlantic states to pay tribute to the fallen officer.

The somber event included all the familiar and powerful symbols, including the riderless horse with the boots turned backwards.

Lieutenant Joseph Szczerba, an 18-year veteran, was promoted to that rank earlier this week posthumously. He leaves behind a widow, Kathy.

Szczerba was killed in the wee hours of last Friday morning when answering a disturbance call in the Penn Acres section of New Castle County. In the incident, he struggled with the suspect and was stabbed.

Under arrest and charged with first-degree murder is 32-year-old David Salasky Jr. of Wilmington. He's being held on $1-million bail.

The funeral mass began around 1:00 p.m. and lasted well into the afternoon.

Lt. Szczerba was called everything from the "salt of the earth" to a "shining star" in his police department. Now at age 44 he's gone to his rest too soon.

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