Bridge dedicated in honor of fallen officer

The Officer Gary Frank Skerski Memorial Bridge was dedicated 12 years after the officer was shot and killed in the line of duty.

Remembering a local hero: State Reps. Jason Dawkins and Angel Cruz, Sen. Christine Tartaglione and many police officers gathered on May 8 for a ceremony to dedicate the bridge over Frankford Creek on Castor Avenue. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

Every time fallen officer Gary Skerski’s family and friends drive over the bridge over Frankford Creek on Castor Avenue, they’ll think of him.

Last week, the Officer Gary Frank Skerski Memorial Bridge was formally dedicated to the officer who was killed in 2006 while responding to an armed robbery close to the bridge.

State Reps. Jason Dawkins and Angel Cruz, Sen. Christine Tartaglione and many police officers gathered at the bridge on May 8 for the ceremony. Members of Skerski’s family and friends were present as well.

“We should never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country and the ultimate sacrifice for their community,” Dawkins said.

Dawkins sponsored the law to rename the bridge.

Exactly 12 years before the dedication, Skerski, the 15th Police District community relations officer, responded to an armed robbery call at Pat’s Café, close to where the bridge is located.

As Skerski approached the door, the suspect, later identified as Solomon Montgomery, opened fire on him, shooting him in his neck. Skerski had served 16 years, and was working overtime that night. He was 46 years old, and survived by his wife and two children.

“We thank you for your service,” Dawkins said to the officers at the dedication. “If you don’t hear it enough, you’re going to hear it today — thank you for your service.”

Linda Gee, who called herself a lifelong friend of Skerski’s wife since elementary school and who knew Gary for 35 years, said the dedication was special.

“It means a lot to all of us,” she said.

LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

Gee recalled the night of the shooting, saying she went over to Skerski’s house to be with his wife Anne and their kids. The families were close and remain close friends, with their kids trick-or-treating together every year, as an example.

“It was just one of those one friendships where you could pick the phone up and say hey, want to get a beer?” she said.

Gee and her husband, Don, described Skerski as a “salt of the earth” guy who had no airs around him — “You always knew where you stood with Gary,” Linda said with a laugh.

Both families have moved out of Philadelphia but their houses remain within 10 minutes of each other. Gee had been there a lot for her after the shooting.

“Even last night, we took a two-mile walk,” she said. “We just call each other and say let’s go out.” ••