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Homecoming: Gilmartin thanks God, community, fellow officers

Scranton Police Detective Kyle Gilmartin shares a moment with his grandmother, Catherine Crockenberg.
Aimee Dilger
Scranton Police Detective Kyle Gilmartin shares a moment with his grandmother, Catherine Crockenberg.

Scranton Police Det. Kyle Gilmartin insists he is not a hero.

Seven weeks after he was shot in the head in the line of duty, Gilmartin stepped up to a podium in full uniform Friday afternoon. He humbly gave thanks to those who saved his life.

“The police officers I was with that night, the medical staff at CMC, and the nurses and therapists at MossRehab are the heroes of this situation,” the wounded officer said before hundreds of people gathered outside SPD headquarters on South Washington Avenue to welcome him home from a Philadelphia-area rehab hospital.

He continued. “I was just an ordinary man who was placed in an extraordinary circumstance in which I faced evil and won due to the grace of God.”

To the law enforcement officers, community leaders, friends and family who gathered to welcome Gilmartin, there was no question of his heroism.

“Kyle’s sacrifice strengthens our police department’s resolve and our mission to keep our community safe,” Police Chief Thomas Carroll said. “He’s truly a leader.”

Gilmartin was critically wounded Jan. 11 in a “gang-related” shooting in West Scranton.

He was discharged from rehab on Friday afternoon and driven straight back to Scranton for the ceremony.

“These last seven weeks have made me believe in miracles,” Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti told WVIA News. ”Kyle has worked so hard, his family has worked so hard to get to the point where he's able to come home.”

“My gratitude knows no bounds for his strength, for his family’s strength, and for the officers that were there with him and brought him safely to the hospital and who have guided him through this and who will keep us safe every night,” Cognetti said.

The Rev. Thomas Muldowney, Pennsylvania State Police chaplain and trauma expert, gave a blessing at the event.

“When someone goes through an event like what Kyle went through, to see someone at the brink of death, I would consider this a miracle,” Muldowney said while waiting for Gilmartin to arrive.

“It was through God’s grace, and the support and love of this community that really has sustained him through this terrible time,” Muldowney said.

Chief Carroll marveled at the size of the crowd, which included U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, U.S. Attorney Gerald Karam, state Sen. Marty Flynn and many local officials.

“I am always amazed when law enforcement rallies for their own. They show up in force for solidarity. But unfortunately, a crowd of police this size usually means an officer has been killed in the line of duty,” Carroll said.

“Not today. Today we gather to celebrate the homecoming of a strong man who defied the odds."

At 2:35 p.m.,the chief raised the microphone and addressed the respectfully silent crowd, his words reverberating off the walls of the station.

“Please direct your attention to the main doors to my left,” Carroll said. “No further words are necessary.”

The audience erupted into applause and cheers as Gilmartin stepped out into the sunlight, flanked by brother Ian Gilmartin and wife Lindsay Gilmartin. He immediately hugged Carroll.

Scranton Police Detective Kyle Gilmartin addresses community

“My family and I are beyond proud of Northeastern Pennsylvania and how its people responded to this senseless tragedy. We thank you for the prayers which have worked, as well as the donations which will be needed greatly in the future,” Gilmartin said.

“If I can choose one thing to come from this, it would be that I would be the last victim of senseless violence. If you are a parent, you need to be talking to your children. If information arises concerning a juvenile or irresponsible person being in possession of a firearm, it must be reported,” he continued.

“Together, we can all work together and end youth gang violence. Let’s help steer our children to be positive role models,” Gilmartin added.

“Thank you for this time in allowing me to speak. God bless you all, and my family loves you,” Gilmartin concluded.

Gilmartin, who joined SPD in 2015, is a Luzerne County native who grew up in the Pittston area. A 2008 graduate of Holy Redeemer High School in Wilkes-Barre, he graduated from the Lackawanna College Police Academy in 2010. Gilmartin previously worked as a police officer in Ashley, Wilkes-Barre Township and Pittston Township.

Next up for the recovering Gilmartin: He and wife Lindsay have been invited to attend next Thursday's State of the Union address in Washington as the guest of U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright.

Scranton Police Chief Tom Carroll hugs Detective Kyle Gilmartin. The officer returned to Scranton after rehab in the Philadelphia-area.
Aimee Dilger
Scranton Police Chief Tom Carroll hugs Detective Kyle Gilmartin. The officer returned to Scranton after rehab in the Philadelphia-area.

Roger DuPuis joins WVIA News from the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader. His 24 years of experience in journalism, as both a reporter and editor, included several years at The Scranton Times-Tribune. His beat assignments have ranged from breaking news, local government and politics, to business, healthcare, and transportation. He has a lifelong interest in urban transit, particularly light rail, and authored a book about Philadelphia's trolley system.

You can email Roger at rogerdupuis@wvia.org
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