West Webster: Chief Gerald Pickering remembers

Posted at: 12/24/2013 3:57 PM
Updated at: 12/24/2013 5:36 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

Mike Chiapperini, one of the firefighters killed in the ambush attack last Christmas Eve, was also a lieutenant in the Webster Police Department. The man who had the responsibility of telling the families of the victims and the community about that tragic shooting was his boss, Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering.

Chief Pickering talked with News10NBC's Berkeley Brean at the scene, one year later.

Chief Gerald Pickering, Webster Police, said, “It's a flood of emotions going back through. It's been almost a year now and it's important to mark the anniversary of our fallen.”

Chief Pickering and News10NBC's Berkeley Brean stood in what was the middle of the ambush. Afire set to lure firefighters into the cross hairs of a man bent on destruction. In the afternoon that day, Chief Pickering announced the deaths of firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka and one of his own lieutenants, Mike Chiapperini.

Chief Pickering said, “It was very difficult. Certainly, before we could release the names, we had to make the notifies personally to the families. One of the most difficult death notifies I've done in my life. Then to actually have to verbalize it to the public was extremely difficult.”

And on this anniversary, there is only one thing the chief wants the community to do.

Chief Pickering said, “It's one of our most holy Christian holidays, second only to Easter, just keep the first responders in your thoughts and prayers.”

In the wake of the shootings, Chief Pickering says some of his long-time lieutenants, sergeants and investigators decided to retire. He says a third of his department is new since the start of the year with five recruits in the academy right now.