BRACKENRIDGE, Pa. (KDKA) — American flags and blue ribbons already wave in the wind along Freeport Road in Natrona Heights.
But Kate Bielak expects to see a sea of red, white and blue there on Wednesday afternoon.
“There are people that grew up and watched Chief McIntire from a little boy turn into a local hero here, so everybody’s connected,” Bielak said.
Bielak said she did not know Chief Justin McIntire personally, but she knew his family. And as a former military police officer herself and having relatives in law enforcement, she said this tragedy hits close to home.
“Everybody says it’s hard to sleep because not only does it disturb the peace you’re used to, but you want to do something, you want to help, you want to take everyone’s pain,” said Bielak.
Bielak created a “Flood Freeport Road” Facebook event encouraging the community to stand along the road from Tarentum to Mount Airy Cemetery where Chief McIntire will be laid to rest.
She said people should arrive around 1:30 p.m. wearing blue and holding American flags.
The funeral starts at noon.
“My vision: as they move the chief’s body from the funeral home all the way through to Mount Airy, that we create such a visual of gratitude and of unity, not only for the McIntire family and all of his friends who are going to be in the procession, but for every single police officer that’s in that procession,” Bielak said.
Bielak said it’s important for residents to show their appreciation for police officers who put their lives on the line every day.
“He wasn’t scared; he stepped up,” said Bielak. “He was protecting us and this entire community owes him a debt of gratitude because he saved all of our lives. He saved our community.”
Bielak hopes Chief McIntire and his family know he did not die in vain.
And they’ll never forget this hometown hero.
Bielak said she’ll continue to put information on the Facebook event page to update everyone.