Investigation continues in fatal shooting of Cleveland police detective

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — As Cleveland police, family and friends mourn the loss of Detective James Skernivitz, who was killed in the line of duty Thursday night, an investigation continues.

Skernivitz was in a car at West 65th Street and Storer Avenue when his car was shot multiple times at about 10 p.m. Thursday, police said. He later died from his injuries. Another person was also killed in the incident.

Now, police report that two juveniles and an adult have been taken into custody and are persons of interest in the case, although they were all arrested on unrelated charges.

The FOX-8 I-Team learned yesterday that investigators believe three people, two juveniles and a young adult, walked up to the car and fired a series of gunshots into the vehicle. Multiple sources told the I-Team that Skernivitz was preparing to make a drug deal as an undercover officer.

Skernivitz, who was an officer for more than 22 years, was recently sworn in as a member of the Violent Crime Task Force to work as part of Operation Legend, which focuses on reducing gang violence, drug crimes, and illegal firearms in Cleveland.

First responders escorted the body to a funeral home today, as seen below.

According to police, Skernivitz wrote the following statement when he applied for the job two decades ago: “Being a police officer would give me the chance to work and help the public and a chance to keep the city in which I grew up safe.”

Det. James Skernivitz

The Cleveland Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Cleveland Division of Police, and Crime Stoppers continue to look for information in the shooting death of Skernivitz and are asking anyone with information involving the case to come forward.

The Cleveland Division of Police phone number for the homicide department is (216) 623-5464. You can also call 911 or Crime Stoppers at (216) 25-CRIME.

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