A few posts ago (The Wife post), I wrote the following:
So, to all of you fellow officers out there, I pray you have the same unconditional, loving support I enjoy. To you spouses of fellow officers, I encourage you to be there to listen, be supportive, embrace the man or woman you married when they get home (and often).
On Saturday, 9/6/08, Sgt. Paul Starzyk with Martinez PD made the ultimate sacrifice when he was shot twice by an estranged husband who had every intention of killing his estranged wife and actually did kill her cousin. From most reliable accounts, the husband (and believe me, I’m restraining myself by simply referring to him as such) knew the police were coming to his apartment when he blindly stuck his gun out of the doorway and fired twice. I want to make sure you understand that. Blindly. He didn’t aim, he didn’t look. He shot Sgt. Starzyk twice, right above the upper panel of his vest.
When we as a society hear of incidents like this we tend to wonder what could have been done differently. By all accounts, the answer is nothing. Sgt. Starzyk was a 12 year veteran of the department. He was a supervisor. He was a firearms instructor. The husband in this incident got off two shots without looking that, sadly, were critical. Since the Columbine incident, we no longer lock down a scene and wait for SWAT to respond to a threat of this nature. We hear screaming, we hear shooting, we grab the closest body in a uniform, and we hunt that threat down.
Sgt. Starzyk did just that. Recently, I went to a training class on “detecting danger”, and, although, most of it felt like COP 101, the point was made that no matter what your body wants, your mind and spirit can fight on. Sgt. Starzyk did just that. I watched a video of a female cashier in a convenience store get shot with a 9mm from less than five feet away. The eventual autopsy showed the round basically caused her heart to explode. She lived for two and a half minutes, based on the time stamp of the video. In that two and a half minutes, she called 911 and wrote a brief note to her daughter. She had something to do before she left. So did Sgt. Starzyk. He fought on. Though critically wounded, he put a .223 round from his AR-15 into the husband’s head. Although the husband was shot after Sgt. Starzyk shot him, the autopsy showed the .223 round to be the kill shot.
Sgt. Starzyk knew there were innocent people left in the apartment from which the husband was shooting. The threat was still active and needed to be eliminated. Sgt. Starzyk saved all of them. In doing so, he gave his life. He is survived by his wife, who is a fellow officer, and their three children.
If any of you feel the desire to assist the Starzyk family, a donation can be made to the Starzyk Family Memorial Fund at the Contra Costa Federal Credit Union at 111 Pine St. in Martinez. The account number is 57950. You can also show your support by standing along the police route scheduled for 9/11/08 between 1230 and 1330 hours. The route is at the following link:
The link below is one of the articles the local paper has on the story. You can also search the database for a couple of others.
My family’s thoughts and prayers are with the Starzyk family. I will be a part of what will no doubt be a very large, very impressive contingent of Motors leading the processional tomorrow. I wish it weren’t necessary.
Again, I ask all of you fellow officers, have a reason to go home. If God says you can’t go home, have a reason to fight. Get the job done. It’s why we’re here. If God says you can go home. Do it. And hug whomever is there. To you spouses and family of officers…If we can’t make it back to you, know our last thoughts were of you, but someone else needed us. We’ll wait for you with the Lord and we’ll see you again. If we are allowed to come home, know that you are the reason we come home. Make it a loving, happy, supportive place.
I’m going home today. I’m going to hug my Wife and my Daughter. I’m a lucky man.