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Bill O Boyle: Heed this hero's message

Times Leader - 3/3/2024

Mar. 3--WILKES-BARRE -- Make no mistake about it, Detective Kyle Gilmartin is a hero for sure.

When you see Gilmartin walk out of the Scranton Police headquarters, wave to the crowd that gathered to welcome him home, and then stand at a podium and speak, you realize that he is, indeed, a hero.

As are all of our police officers, firefighters, first responders -- heroes all, who put their lives on the line daily to protect ours.

So despite what Det. Gilmartin said on Friday, just seven weeks after being shot twice in the head in the line of duty, he is a hero.

Here is what Gilmartin said at Friday's ceremony:

"First, I would like to say that I am not a hero.

"The police officers I was with that night, the medical staff at CMC, and the nurses and therapists at Moss Rehab are the heroes of this situation.

"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.

"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."

All true, but Gilmartin wasn't finished. That's when he decided to deliver a message that must be heard from Scranton to everywhere.

"If I can choose one thing to come from this, it would be that I would be the last victim of senseless violence," Gilmartin said. "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.

"Together, we can all work together and end youth gang violence. Let's help steer our children to be positive role models."

According to police reports, Gilmartin, Detective Jason Hyler and Detective Sgt. Joseph Lafferty were working together in the early hours of Jan. 11, when Aiden Gabriel Deininger, 20, of Old Forge, fired five rounds from point-blank range into the unmarked police sedan in the 500 block of North Decker Court.

Two of the rounds hit Gilmartin above his right eye before Lafferty returned fire, hitting Deininger several times. Gilmartin was rushed to Geisinger Community Medical Center in a patrol vehicle. On Jan. 23, Gilmartin was transferred to Jefferson Moss-Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Elkins Park. He was discharged from their on Friday, returning home to a hero's welcome.

"What can I say? It really is a miracle," Hyler said on Friday.

And that was the overall theme of the event held at Scranton City Police Department headquarters on South Washington Avenue -- beginning with Monsignor Thomas Muldowney, Chaplain for the Pennsylvania State Police.

"Today is the dawn of healing and renewal," Muldowney said. "It shows that in the face of evil and adversity, miracles do occur. Thank you Lord for this second chance at life for Kyle. And continue to provide safety for all officers of the Scranton Police Department."

Scranton Police Chief Tom Carroll introduced Gilmartin.

"This is amazing," Carroll said. "Kyle Gilmartin is a strong man who defied the odds. Usually, when this many police officers are gathered, it is for a officer who has been killed in the line of duty.

"Not today."

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright announced this week that Det. Gilmartin will be his guest at the 2024 State of the Union Address on March 7, in Washington, D.C.

"Detective Gilmartin and the fellow 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 said.

This brave man, this hero, has a story that should resonate with everyone everywhere. Gilmartin continued to display his courage and bravery by taking a stand, advocating for bringing a halt to senseless gun violence.

This week, Lt. Gov. Austin Davis joined gun safety advocates and family members of gun violence victims at a Capitol news conference to call for an investment in the state Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which is a key part of Gov. Josh Shapiro's budget and plan to make Pennsylvania communities safer.

"Every Pennsylvanian, no matter what they look like or where they live, deserves to be safe and feel safe in their home and in their neighborhood," said Davis. "Gun violence rates are still unacceptably high, particularly amongst young people. Our investments in safer communities are making a difference, but we need to double-down on our efforts and make sure they're even more effective."

The state Office of Gun Violence Prevention will focus on four key areas: community outreach and technical assistance; inter-agency coordination (federal, state and local); addressing intersections of gun violence with domestic violence; data, research and evaluation.

It's time to take a long, hard look at addressing this issue.

Look no further than Gilmartin and his message.

Reach Bill O'Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.


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