Community mourns the loss of Cleveland Police Detective James Skernivitz, killed in the line of duty

Three suspects are in custody on unrelated charges.
Published: Sep. 5, 2020 at 4:14 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A community is in mourning as Cleveland Police grieve the loss of one of their own.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams reflected on the life of Detective James Skernivitz.

“Jimmy was a great police officer,” Chief Williams said. “He was what we call a policemen’s policeman. He worked hard for the city he loved.”

Detective Skernivitz was gunned down in the line of duty, hit by gunfire as he was sitting in his car working undercover.

The 53-year-old husband and father of two was a decorated officer who served the public for 25 years on the Cleveland Police Department.

Chief Williams was visibly shaken as he talked about the investigation.

“Keep sending us your prayers, we appreciate it.”

Investigators are working to figure out why three suspects, including two teenagers allegedly ambushed the undercover officer.

Police sources confirm to 19 Investigates that Detective Skernivitz was wired up with a civilian passenger who was helping him with an undercover investigation.

Shots rang out around 10:00 p.m. Thursday at West 65th and Storer. The bullets penetrated the undercover vehicle Skernivitz was working in as part of the “Gang Impact Unit.”

A fellow officer who rushed to the scene made an urgent call for help, asking the dispatcher to tell the ambulance to step it up, they’re needed right now.

Detective Skernivitz died at the hospital. 19 News later learned that a civilian passenger Scott Dingess was also murdered.

The daughter of Scott Dingess cried as she approached the crime scene with her mother.

“I hope we find justice for the people who killed my dad and the police officer.”

What remains unclear is if this was a random shooting or if it was related to the undercover investigation the detective was working on.

Chief Williams said, “We’re asking for the public’s help.”

Meanwhile, two young members of the community, 6 and 8 year old Josiah and Gideon Trunk of Vandallia Avenue in Brooklyn are working to protect and serve Detective Skernivitz’s family, along with the family of another officer.

Josiah Trunk says, “so they can stay safe.”

The child set up a lemonade stand that has already raised over $200 dollars so far.

“They’re our heros,” Gideon Trunk tells 19 News.

Young people saluting the life of an Officer who died doing what he loved.

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