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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Loved ones are mourning Cleveland police officer Shane Bartek, who was shot and killed while off duty New Year’s Eve.

He was just 25 years old, but those who knew and loved him say Bartek touched a lot of people in his short life.

“He cared so deeply and had such special connections with everyone that crossed paths with him,” said Bartek’s childhood friend, Conner Mansell. “Whether he worked for a couple months at a restaurant or went to school with him or dated him, he had a special, profound impact on people.”

Mansell says he’s still trying to understand this devastating loss.

“When I heard that he had passed, it was just utter and complete shock,” he said. “I was hyperventilating, shaking and I couldn’t believe it.”

Officer Bartek grew up in Middleburg Heights and attended Berea-Midpark High School, where he played soccer before graduating in 2015. He then earned a degree from the University of Cincinnati.

His friends say he was whole-heartedly loved by everyone.

“I just want Shane to be remembered as someone who was genuinely compassionate toward others,” said Mansell. “Someone who in reflection has inspired me to reconnect with others, to keep the fire in every relationship I have and just really value people.”

Bartek became a Cleveland police officer in August 2019. His friends say becoming a police officer was more than a job; it was his passion.

“It meant so much to him to be carrying out his dream of being a police officer and it was so perfect for him because he loved to serve others,” Mansell said. “He loved people; he wanted to make a difference and an impact.”

Photo courtesy Conner Mansell

Mourners have been hanging blue ribbons outside the 5th District Headquarters where Bartek worked and condolences continue to pour in.

Cleveland Mayor Elect Justin Bibb tweeted that these types of senseless crimes won’t be tolerated and that together we will fight for a safer city and support law enforcement in their efforts to keep our neighborhoods secure.

While the community mourns a police officer, Mansell is trying to now imagine life without his best friend. He says he’s going to live like Officer Bartek would want him to.

“Since he passed last night I can’t help but think Shane really was living his best life,” Mansell said. “There will be some grieving obviously and it’s going to be tough, but we’re going to get to a point we’ll celebrate and celebrate him because that’s the type of person Shane was and I know that’s what he wants us to do”

Bartek is survived by his mother, his twin sister and their older brother. His father passed away a few years ago.