Mentor community reaches out after officer killed while on duty

MENTOR, O.H. – The parking lot of the Mentor Police Department was busy for a Sunday on June 24th, as people who live in the city visited to pay their respects after an officer was killed in the line of duty.

Officials say the  officer was hit by a Jeep while helping with a traffic stop on the side of Route 2 around 1 a.m. Sunday. The driver of the Jeep didn’t stop and fled the scene. The officer was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The suspect is now in custody after investigators found the Jeep at Mentor Lagoons Marina a few hours later.

Terri Pekarcik was outside the department Sunday afternoon hanging blue ribbons on trees and lamp posts.

“We just felt helpless. You know you want to do something, to pay your respects, and show your support to the officers you know his coworkers and his family,” Pekarcik said. Pekarcik is with the Lake County chapter of the Sea of Blue organization, which supports law enforcement officers.

“Every ribbon, thinking of different people who have lost their lives and all the people out there and the hard job that they have to do. Their life is in danger on a daily basis,” Pekarcik said.

Other people brought care packages of food and several local businesses dropped off food and drinks for the officers as well.

One man dropped off a bouquet of roses and another just stopped to pray.

“I prayed for peace for the department and for the family of the officer and for the whole community,” said Paul Orlando who has lived in Mentor more than 30 years.

Orlando said it is part of his faith to reach out and pray for others in their time of need.

“We just thought we should come up and we saw the blue ribbons and the cross over there and just wanted to support Mentor where we live in particular and all law enforcement…because they take risks and they take risks so that the rest of us don’t have to,” Orlando said.

Investigators have not yet released the name of the officer killed or the suspect. Officials are holding a news conference Monday at 11 a.m.