HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) – Thousands of law enforcement officers from across the country gathered Thursday to pay respects to a deputy U.S. marshal who died in the line of duty a week ago.
A public memorial service was held at Giant Center for Deputy U.S. Marshal Christopher Hill.
Hill’s colleagues who spoke at the service remembered him as a practical joker and told stories from his 11 years with the U.S. Marshals Service. Television cameras were not permitted inside.
Mourners said the service was all about the impact Hill had on so many people’s lives.
“He was the one that trained everybody how to do their entries, how to be tactically sound,” former Derry Township police chief Patrick O’Rourke said. “He was the guy that, the one speaker said, he always forced you to push the bar, but Chris was the bar. He was just the best of the best at what he did.”
A ceremonial motorcade with dozens of police and other vehicles escorted Hill’s body to the memorial service. Mourners who never knew Hill saluted the procession along Interstate 81, Route 39, and Route 322. A large American flag hoisted by Hershey firefighters was among several on the route.
“I see the badge and the uniform and then I see the person behind it,” said Gordon Stubbs, a former law enforcement officer. “The people behind it are also humans, whether a man or woman, and they have families and loved ones that look for them to come home and, unfortunately, in instances like this, some just don’t make it home.”
“It comes to a point where you wish you wouldn’t have to do this anymore, but when it happens, it’s one fight, one army, and you will see representation from all over the nation attending,” said Randy Pope, of the Guardian Knights Motorcycle Club.
Hill was fatally shot Thursday morning while serving an arrest warrant in Harrisburg with the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. He is survived by his wife and two children.
The task force had arrested 30-year-old Shayla Pierce, who was wanted for terroristic threats and related charges, at her home in the 1800 block of Mulberry Street. Authorities said a man in the home, 31-year-old Kevin Sturgis, opened fire on the officers and they returned fire and killed him.
Sturgis, of Philadelphia, had active warrants from his hometown. The Dauphin County Coroner’s office said Wednesday that he died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Officer Kyle Pitts, a York City police officer and member of the task force, was shot and injured in the attack. He was released from a hospital Wednesday morning.
Harrisburg police Officer Jeffery Cook was struck by gunfire in the chest. A ballistic vest stopped the bullet from injuring him.