Pa. police detectives who stopped chief’s killer honored with Medals of Valor
Detectives Sean Stumpf and Mike Slatcoff were honored for their actions during a manhunt for the fugitive who killed Brackenridge Police Chief Justin McIntire
By Justin Vellucci
The Tribune-Review, Greensburg
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh police Detectives Sean Stumpf and Mike Slatcoff still remember rushing to the city’s Homewood-Brushton neighborhood on Jan. 2 to chase the fugitive who killed Brackenridge police Chief Justin McIntire.
The fugitive — Aaron Lamont Swan Jr., 28, of Duquesne — emerged from a wooded area after crashing a stolen car nearby. He opened fire with an automatic weapon, hitting Stumpf square in the chest.
“This is nice. But the only person that deserves this is the chief out in Brackenridge. He gave up everything. I still get to go home at night,” Slatcoff said. (Photo/ YouTube via CBS News) A ballistic vest thwarted the bullet.
Stumpf said Monday he only faced a situation that intense in Pittsburgh once before, when responding to the Squirrel Hill synagogue shooting in 2018 — the year before he became a detective.
“It’s not easy, it’s really not easy, but you have to rely on your training,” Stumpf said. “It’s just like sports — nobody becomes a professional athlete without a lot of practice.”
Stumpf and Slatcoff both returned fire, striking Swan. The manhunt involved scores of law enforcement officers and ended with the fugitive’s death at the scene.
“Stumpf and Slatcoff knew who they were chasing and what he was capable of,” Pittsburgh police Chief Larry Scirotto said.
On Monday, the two Pittsburgh police officers joined their peers as they received official honors for their service and bravery. Scirotto kicked off an hourlong awards ceremony at the old Steamfitters building near Beechview by presenting the pair with Medals of Valor. Stumpf also was awarded a Purple Heart.
“Chief McIntire should be up here,” said Slatcoff, who’s been a detective for 10 of his 16 years on the city’s police force. “This is nice. But the only person that deserves this is the chief out in Brackenridge. He gave up everything. I still get to go home at night.”
Stories abounded as Scirotto acknowledged dozens of officers for their courage and leadership.
“The world sometimes forgets the sacrifices of those who ensure their safety,” he said. “You make our city safe and secure.”
Pittsburgh police Officer Benjamin Gery thought fast after being shot by an armed man fleeing a crime scene in Knoxville, managing to take the shooter into custody before receiving medical treatment, Scirotto said. He, like Stumpf, received the Purple Heart, though in absentia.
Pittsburgh police Officers Joel Battiste, Nicholas Eritz and Jarred Weiss rescued an entrapped, unconscious victim from a vehicle that became fully engulfed in flames after being hit by a Pittsburgh Regional Transit bus, Scirotto said. Each officer received a Medal of Valor.
Scirotto read the names of each Bureau Officer of the Year, each Branch Officer of the Month, and every Bureau Officer of the Month between 2020 and 2023.
A line of about a dozen senior officers in full uniform — some commanders, some lieutenants — stood waiting in the wings, shaking the hands of each award recipient.
Some officers attended the event in uniform, others in street clothes. Tattoos occasionally peeked out from officers’ shirt-sleeves. At least one officer came to the ceremony wearing snakeskin boots.
Standing at a modest podium framed by the U.S. flag and one emblazoned with the city seal, Scirotto joked when an officer’s name appeared for more than one award.
“In this instance,” he quipped, “I actually like seeing repeat offenders.”
Numerous officers, some joined by spouses, parents and others snapping photos with their cellphones, received Letters of Recognition, and others awards for good conduct or safe driving. The names of those receiving awards filled about a dozen pages in the event’s program.
“It was important that we do this for our officers,” said Scirotto, as he closed the ceremony Monday afternoon. “What they do for our community matters.”
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