Chief of Police George W. Kercher

Chief of Police George W. Kercher

Bethel Park Police Department, Pennsylvania

End of Watch Saturday, March 27, 1954

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George W. Kercher

Chief of Police George Kercher died as a result of complications due to gunshot wounds sustained during an arrest six years earlier.

He and his partner responded to a home on Broughton Road and caught two men in a house they had broken into while the owners were away on vacation. The officers handcuffed the suspects together and were escorting them to the patrol car when one of them produced a pistol and shot both officers, striking Chief of Police Kercher in the abdomen. Chief Kercher crawled to the car and called for help as the suspects fled on foot. Chief Kercher's partner, Patrolman Joseph Chmelynski, succumbed to his wounds four days later.

Hours later the suspects were spotted in South Park by three detectives. One of the suspects opened fire with a submachine gun when ordered to halt, wounding one of the detectives and critically wounding a citizen who was standing nearby. Nine hours later the suspects were captured as they got out of a taxi in New Eagle. The cab driver had signaled police that something was wrong in his cab.

Both suspects were found to be responsible for numerous burglaries. The suspect who shot Patrolman Chmelynski was convicted of his murder and sentenced to death on September 29th, 1948. He was executed in the electric chair on January 9th, 1950. The other suspect received a lengthy prison term for several counts of burglary.

Since the incident, Chief Kercher's health deteriorated and he had undergone several hospitalizations. He died while under care at Saint Margarets Hospital in Pittsburgh. An autopsy later revealed that the cause of death was due to uremic poisoning due to the original gunshot wound.

Chief Kercher was a U.S. Army veteran of WWII and had served with the Bethel Park Police for only a short time before the incident. He previously served with the Pennsylvania State Police for 15 years and worked as a county detective for the Allegheny County District Attorney for a combined total of 25 years in law enforcement. He is survived by his wife, two sons, and siblings.

Bio

  • Age 47
  • Tour 25 years
  • Badge CHIEF
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Friday, March 5, 1948
  • Weapon Handgun; Pistol
  • Offender Executed in 1950

burglary

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Matthew 5:9

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Federal Air Marshal Service

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