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Hundreds on North Shore support fallen law enforcement during 5K

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Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Pittsburgh police Officer Cristyn Zett of Beechview cradles her daughter, Emma, 4, at the third annual Pittsburgh Officers Down 5K on the North Shore Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014.
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Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Participants in the third annual Pittsburgh Officers Down 5K hit the streets on the North Shore on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014.
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Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Sue Sciullo is comforted during the third annual Pittsburgh Officers Down 5K on the North Shore Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. Sciullo's son, Paul J. Sciullo, was shot and killed along with two other Pittsburgh police officers in April 2009.

Dave Molloy shouldered a pole hoisting a black flag with a thin blue line coursing its span. He followed most of the hundreds of runners Sunday on the North Shore, walking the first few steps of the Pittsburgh Officers Down 5K before breaking into a slow jog.

“Remembering the fallen officers, that’s what it is all about,” said Molloy, 58, of Robinson, a former reserve deputy with the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office who retired from the Navy. “I always had a sense of duty. And I want to honor the guys — and the girls.”

More than 400 people registered for the third annual run, held in South Park its first two years. The run started and ended near the Law Enforcement Memorial on North Shore Drive.

“We decided the city is the best place for it,” said event manager Danielle Getty, 25, of Moon. “We not only want to create awareness that police keep you safe on a daily basis, but we want to have a positive atmosphere. And we want to raise funds for those families that lose loved ones.”

The race honors law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Organizers of the Officers Down 5K Foundation, which helps support the Officer Down Memorial Page at odmp.org, for the first time held races this year in Youngstown, Ohio; Cleveland; Texarkana, Texas; and Tupelo, Miss. Next year, they hope to expand to California, North Carolina and Nevada.

“We want to do this nationwide,” Getty said.

Proceeds from Pittsburgh’s race benefited the local Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 91 and a memorial fund for state police Cpl. Bryon Dickson, who died Sept. 12 after being ambushed by a sniper outside his Blooming Grove barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Tabitha Lopresto said her trooper husband exited the same barracks a half-hour before Dickson was shot. She attended Sunday’s race with PSP Wives from Scranton selling their “PSP Strong” t-shirts and attire.

“You all go through the same thing,” said Lopresto, 36, of Luzerne County, noting the deaths of Pittsburgh police Officers Eric Kelly, Stephen J. Mayhle and Paul J. Sciullo II, who were shot and killed in April 2009 while answering a domestic violence call in Stanton Heights. “They should have something like this back home. That’s what you want, all this support for law enforcement.”

Race participants wore clothing representing a number of different agencies, including the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Monessen police, the Allegheny County SWAT team, U.S. Park Rangers and Monroeville Fire Rescue EMS. One runner wore a shirt in memory of John Dryer, an East Washington police officer fatally shot on Interstate 70 in 2011.

Dozens of runners donned shirts for “The Fightin’ Fifth,” a nickname for the Pittsburgh Zone 5 police station where Kelly, Mayhle and Sciullo served. Sciullo’s parents attended to offer their support.

“They are still an important part of our Zone 5 family,” said Lt. Jason Lando, 37.

Of the hundreds who ran, Lando noted that most work in law enforcement or have family members who do.

“It would be great next year if we could get a great turnout from the people of the city,” Lando said. “Too often, we’re left to support each other.”

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or [email protected].

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