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Gilmartin to attend State of the Union as Cartwright's guest

Scranton Police Detective Kyle Gilmartin with his wife, Lindsay, and U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright has invited a Scranton police officer seriously wounded last month in the line of duty to join him at the State of the Union next week.

Kyle Gilmartin would be Cartwright's guest at President Joe Biden's address. Gilmartin is still at a Philadelphia area hospital undergoing rehabilitation from head wounds suffered in a gang-related shooting Jan. 11.

He's expected to be released in time before Biden's March 7 address to senators and representatives in the House.

"This man is among the best of us," Cartwright said in an interview Monday. "Why shouldn't he be our representative to the State of the Union address in Washington?"

Each member of Congress is allowed to invite a guest. Members often use the invitation to highlight a person facing adversity.

In a statement, Cartwright said Gilmartin and the officers who saved his life "represent the uncommon valor demonstrated by our nation’s law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities."

Cartwright personally asked Gilmartin and his wife, Lindsay, to attend during a Feb. 22 hospital visit.

In a news released issued by the congressman's office, Gilmartin said the invitation is an honor and "a testament" to Cartwright's "longstanding support of law enforcement and public safety."

"Congressman Cartwright checked in on me daily since I was shot and nearly killed," Gilmartin said. "My family thanks the City of Scranton and the community for the outpouring of support they have provided us. We can never thank everyone enough. We love our community and its leaders.”

In the interview, Cartwright called Gilmartin "one of the gutsiest men I've ever met. The officer has recovered enough to converse.

"You can have a sensible conversation with him," Cartwright said. "He speaks well, he credits his speech therapist. He understands the train of the conversation."

State police charged Aiden Deininger, 20, of Old Forge, with trying to kill Gilmartin, Detective Sgt. Joseph Lafferty and Detective Jason Hyler, who were on a stakeout in a police car in West Scranton.

Deininger fired into the car five times at close range. Two bullets hit Gilmartin in the head. Police fired back and struck Deininger, who was hospitalized for several days. He's in the Lackawanna County Prison, held without bail.

Deininger is also accused of firing into a home at 330-332 Prospect Ave. in Scranton where a family lived.

The events that led to the shooting began with a break-in into a car just before midnight Jan. 10. The car was parked at a convenience store on Boulevard Avenue in Scranton.

Deininger is charged with breaking into the card and using a credit card to buy $42 worth of goods at another convenience store three blocks away.

He is charged with attempted homicide, attempted murder of police officers in the first degree, aggravated assault, carrying a gun without a license, firing a gun into an occupied structure, criminal use of a cell phone, recklessly endangering another person, assault of law enforcement officers, theft from a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property and unauthorized use of a credit card.

Police have also charged Jeremiah Cleveland, 19, of Mayfield, with a role in the events leading up to the shooting.

Cleveland is accused of firing a gun into 330-332 Prospect Ave. and near a home at 410 Harrison Ave. in Scranton.

He is charged with carrying a gun without a license, firing a gun into an occupied structure, criminal use of a cell phone and recklessly endangering another person.

The preliminary hearings for both are scheduled for March 6 at 12:30 p.m.

Borys joins WVIA News from The Scranton Times-Tribune, where he served as an investigative reporter and covered a wide range of political stories. His work has been recognized with numerous national and state journalism awards from the Inland Press Association, Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors, Society of Professional Journalists and Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association.

You can email Borys at boryskrawczeniuk@wvia.org