CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Two juveniles and one adult were arrested Friday morning in connection with the murder of a Cleveland police detective.
Officer James Skernivitz, 53, was shot and killed in the line of duty around 10 p.m. Thursday in the area of W. 65th and Storer Avenue.
He was pronounced dead at MetroHealth Hospital late Thursday evening, said police.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner said Skernivitz was shot in the trunk portion of his body, which caused fatal injuries to his heart, great vessels, and lungs.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Chief of Police Calvin Williams spoke about the officer’s murder during a 3 p.m. virtual press conference:
Police said Skernivitz and a second man were ambushed while sitting in Skernivitz’s police vehicle.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner identified the second man as Scott Dingess, 50.
“For all the people putting it on Facebook, he was never an informant. I don’t know why people keep saying that,” his daughter said.
His mom described him as a great person who was outgoing and made people laugh.
“He didn’t ask nobody for anything,” his daughter said, adding he was a hard worker and an independent person.
Skernivitz became a police officer in February of 1998 was a nearly 25-year veteran of the Cleveland police department.
He was assigned to the gang Gang Impact Unit and was recently sworn in as a Violent Crimes Task Force officer with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working on the national law enforcement initiative Operation Legend.
He was also in the Cleveland honor guard.
When he applied to become an officer, Skernivitz wrote, “Being a police officer would give me the chance to work and help the public and a chance to keep the city in which I grew up safe.”
Cleveland Police said “he did just that every day that he reported to work.
“He was the one you’d want to duplicate over and over again because he did the work the way it was supposed to be done,” Chief Williams said.
“Detective Skernivitz dedicated his life to the citizens of Cleveland and made our city a safer place,” said Director of Public Safety Karrie D. Howard.
“Jimmy was a great police officer, he was what we call a “policeman’s policeman,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin D. Williams. “He worked hard for the city that he loved, he worked hard to take care of his family and he worked hard to take care of his fellow officers.”
Skernivitz was married with two adult children.
“Cleveland lost one of its finest tonight in the line of duty,” said Williams.
Police have not yet released the names of the three suspects. They were taken into custody on unrelated warrants and are now being questioned for their potential roles in the deadly shooting.
Chief Williams would not go into detail about the assignment Skernivitz was working at the time of the shooting.
Anyone with additional information is asked to call 911 or Crimestoppers at 216-25-CRIME.
The FBI has also set up a tip line at 216-622-6842.
This is a developing story and will be updated.