Aunt Susie and Uncle Max

That Was Paul

On April 4th, 2009, Pittsburgh Police Officer Paul J. Sciullo II was killed in the line of duty, along with his fellow officers, Ofc. Eric Kelly and Ofc. Stephen Mayhle. It was the worst police shooting in the city’s history. Paul was my younger first cousin and this is a collection of stories about the impact he had on the lives of others, turning grief into joy, and what it means to be truly happy in what you do.

The podcast is called "That Was Paul," because my Aunt Susie and Uncle Max would end a lot of the stories about Paul with that simple phrase. It was who he was. It was what made him a special human being.

To this day, family and friends still stop by their house on Pearl Street in Bloomfield to see how they are doing, and the stories start flowing like my Uncle’s homemade Italian wine. My Aunt Susie would always tell people she would not be offended if they got up and left because they talk too much. But nobody ever does.

As a police officer, Paul found what most people don’t find in a lifetime: Happiness. He was at his happiest when he was doing the job he loved and making a difference. I hope you enjoy listening to these stories as much as I enjoyed putting them together. And like Aunt Susie said, we won’t be offended if you get up and leave, we’ll just keep talking.

- Bill Garrison

Trailer: Burning Desire To Do Something

Hear how this collection of funny, moving and heartfelt stories about my cousin Paul Sciullo came to be.

Show Notes

It literally took a pandemic to get this project moving. I had thought about it for a year, talked to my Aunt Susie and Uncle Max about it many times, but I never had (nor found) the time to actually get it started. Covid, of course, changed all that. After a few weeks of working from home, and having my schedule cleared of pretty much everything but an occasional shower, I decided it had to be now or never. Since we had been doing more podcasts for our clients at Garrison Hughes, the ad agency I co-founded with Dave Hughes, I reached out to Michael Sorg of Sidekick Media Services who had been producing those podcasts for us. Michael’s schedule also had lightened up a bit, so I took it as a sign. Maybe Paul was giving us one from heaven. Michael is a great person to work with. He rolls with the punches, handles technology illiterates with care, and was very good at working remotely, which was a requirement during our months of quarantine. I sent a Yeti microphone to my Aunt and Uncle’s house. I had a microphone at home. And Michael was set up from his home office using a program called Zencaster. Once we were all hooked up, with only a few glitches, we just started talking as if we were all in my Aunt and Uncle’s living room. Looking at the photos of my cousin Paul on the wall, his Purple Heart on the mantle, and the many other memories of him as a Pittsburgh Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on April 4th, 2009.

https://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2009/04/04/Officers-killed-wounded-in-Stanton-Heights-standoff/stories/200904040182

After we had recorded a bunch of interviews, I realized we had something special here. Over the years, Paul’s story has impacted so many people. Our family. The City of Pittsburgh. People from across the country who knew him. Even those he arrested. I knew I had to make this podcast just as meaningful as the messages these stories were trying to send. That’s when I went begging again. I turned to my friend, colleague and neighbor, Jay Green, for his help in producing the podcast, creating music for it, and hosting it since his company Big Science had created their own successful podcasts. And that’s where we are today.

In this brief introductory episode, I’ll explain why these podcasts are called, "That was Paul." I will try to set the stage for why I felt these stories were important to tell. You’ll hear my Aunt Susie (who is my Godmother) and my Uncle Max for the first time. I hope it gives you a reason to keep listening to future episodes because they are funny, genuine, loving, and such wonderful examples of selflessness and love. The backdrop of all of this is the neighborhood Paul and I grew up in – Bloomfield.

https://www.visitpittsburgh.com/neighborhoods/bloomfield/

https://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/a-game-a-neighborhood-a-hometown-hero/

It shaped our childhood, skinned our knees, and taught us the meaning of family. Paul was Bloomfield’s favorite son. He loved it and he would change the direction of his life to protect it and everything in it.

Episode 1: Aunt Susie & Uncle Max

To know Paul is to know his mom and dad, my Aunt Susie and Uncle Max. This is how it all started. If you listen closely, you can hear Paul laughing.

Show Notes

As I say in the beginning of this episode, to know my cousin Paul is to know his mom and dad – my Aunt Susie and Uncle Max. Listening to them tell stories about Paul and what he did in his all-too-brief career as a police officer, is what inspired this podcast. A common refrain in the stories they told me is how funny Paul was. I witnessed a lot of Paul’s humor firsthand since we were cousins and spent a lot of time at family functions and golf outings. But the more you get to know Aunt Susie and Uncle Max, the more you realize that Paul got his humor and his unique perspective on life from them.

I also introduce Paul’s two older sisters in this episode, Laura Zahren and Julia Mullen, and another one of our cousins, Steve Sciullo. Paul and Stevie were like brothers. Stevie explains the family dynamic that brought their families together in a way that still makes it hard for him to talk about Paul – more than eleven years after his tragic death.

As my Aunt Susie and Uncle Max talk about Paul’s early career, they mention the Kellogg Corporation several times, where Paul was offered a position. During this part of the episode they also mention the Steelers, the greatest football team ever, of course.

You will also hear one of Paul’s sisters mention the name Central. That is Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School where almost every Catholic in Bloomfield went after grade school. I graduated from Central a "few" years before Paul, and like him, I still count some of my best friends as guys I knew at that school. Central Catholic is an all-boys high school that has become a Pittsburgh institution. It is known for turning boys into men of faith, scholarship and service. It has a long and storied history of developing great leaders, outstanding athletes and unbreakable bonds of friendship. Paul made quite an impact at Central Catholic as we talk about in this episode. In fact, his hockey jersey is the only other jersey retired at Central besides a quarterback you may have heard of – Dan Marino.

Also mentioned in this episode is Duquesne University, a Catholic university where Paul graduated with a degree in Psychology and made the Dean’s List. He played varsity golf and club hockey for the Dukes. Today, there is an award named after Paul given by the Department of Psychology that recognizes and celebrates exceptional community service. Paul was also enshrined in Duquesne’s 2015-16 Hall of Fame class.

Episode 2: Clicking His Heels

This episode is all about Paul’s desire to be a police officer and what shaped his decision to change his life entirely and enroll in the Pittsburgh Police Academy. It was a decision that his mother said made him "the happiest person in the world."

Show Notes

Appearing in this episode is Lieutenant Art "Chip" Baker of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Quite literally, nobody is more qualified to speak on what it means to be a police officer than Chip. All told, 7 members of the Baker family are Pittsburgh Police officers: Chip, his wife, three of his siblings, plus a brother-in-law and sister-in-law. I asked Chip to let me know when the Baker family goes on vacation so I know not to go out that week. Chip’s younger brother Andrew went to the Academy with Paul. Chip was one of Paul’s training officers and they spent a month out in the field.

https://pittsburghpa.gov/joinpghpolice/index.html

Chip mentions Zone 5. This is the station where Paul was assigned and it allowed him to patrol Bloomfield, the neighborhood he loved.

The parking ticket story that Aunt Susie and Uncle Max tell is especially funny when you consider that the officer who "ticketed" my Uncle Max’s car in front of his house had just had a big spaghetti dinner there with a group of Paul’s graduating class.

Food is always a big deal in an Italian family. Another story in here mentions "pizzelles." The pizzelle is considered the world’s oldest cookie, dating back hundreds of years in Italian culture. They are light, crispy Italian waffle cookies that are a favorite around Christmas and Easter time. And of course, weddings.

Episode 3: We Love You Paul

Paul didn’t fit the mold of a police officer. He was the mold. After his death, people reached out to my Aunt Susie and Uncle Max to tell their story of Paul. How he treated them with respect. Gave them a second chance. And made a difference in their lives.

Show Notes

In this episode, you will hear the stories that came out after Paul was killed in the line of duty. One person who was arrested by Paul (he did not make a lot of arrests) came to the funeral home to tell my Aunt Susie and Uncle Max how Paul treated him with kindness and respect. In the following months and years, people would knock on my Aunt Susie’s and Uncle Max’s front door and ask if they could come in and talk about Paul. Letters and cards would arrive, sent by people describing an interaction they had with Paul and how he made an impact on them. A woman and her daughter held up a sign at the cemetery saying "We Love You Paul." My Aunt Susie and Uncle Max did not know who she was until years later when she told them the story of how Paul did something extraordinary to help her out of a situation that could have ruined her life. In Paul’s mind, he wasn’t doing anything that "special." He was just doing his job. Treating people like he always had before, like his parents taught him.

I start off this episode with a quote from Joseph Campbell. As part of the research for this podcast, I read his book called "The Hero’s Journey." His concept of being a hero resonated with me and his connection to psychology felt appropriate since Paul was a Psychology major at Duquesne University.

Joseph Campbell’s teachings also had a hand in helping to create other heroes you may have heard of.

You will hear a new voice in this episode. Veteran Pittsburgh Police Officer Keith Miles took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about an experience he had with Paul, who was new to the force but exhibited qualities beyond his years.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWwEIiwIcuM

I mention St. Joseph’s Church in Bloomfield, which is now called Saint Maria Goretti.

I thank Professor Norm Conti of Duquesne University in this episode. Mr. Conti helped to connect us to Keith Miles.

We held several interviews at Lot 17 in Bloomfield. Thanks to owner John Leventis for allowing us to use the upstairs. Paul loved Lot 17, it embodies everything that Bloomfield represents. Good food, good times and good friends. I encourage you to go there and get the wings!

Once again, Lieutenant Chip Baker is quoted here. Thanks for everything you do Chip.

In this episode, I also thank Dicky Nassar and KDKA News for the clip taken from April 4th 2009.

Other news stories from that fateful day.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gunman-kills-3-pittsburgh-police-officers/

https://www.post-gazette.com/home/2011/06/21/Prosecutors-present-graphic-evidence-of-2009-shooting-deaths-of-3-Pittsburgh-police-officers/stories/201106210217

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGVEo2zYbIc

Episode 4: Paul's still really alive

A beautiful spring day. Shattered by the sounds of gunfire. In this episode we walk in the shoes of Aunt Susie, Uncle Max, Julia, Laura and others in our family who woke up to a day none of us will ever forget. But this was not the end of Paul’s story, it was only the beginning.

Show Notes

This episode was tough for a lot of reasons. It doesn’t have the humor or inspirational feel of the other episodes, but it paints a picture of what my family went through on that fateful day in April, and the days and weeks that followed. It is an experience that too many families have had to endure when a loved one is violently taken from them. I thought this part of the story was important because it shows how Aunt Susie and Uncle Max found strength in the love and support of others, and despite the shock and public scrutiny that invaded their very private lives, they grasped the one thing that could get them through it - Paul’s presence.

The shooting took place in Stanton Heights, a neighborhood located less than 10 miles east of the City of Pittsburgh. It is a beautiful, tree-lined neighborhood where many police officers, firefighters, EMS and other first-responders call home.

Paul knew the dangers of being a police officer and he made sure he told his family what to expect if something ever happened to him.

The news of the shooting of the three police officers spread rapidly. It became a national story.
https://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/us/05pittsburgh.html
https://www.newschannel10.com/story/10131144/gunman-lying-in-wait-kills-3-pittsburgh-officers/

My cousin Laura talks about how she first heard about the shooting. She was driving back to Pittsburgh from Virginia with her husband Eric, and their three children, to spend Easter with her family. Eric Zahren worked for the Secret Service at the time, so he was notified immediately of the shooting.

My cousin Beth Sciullo appears for the first time in this episode. She loved Paul more than you could imagine, and she still calls on him (many times out loud) and asks him to give her the courage to face tough situations in her life. Bethie talks about the funeral procession leading up to the Petersen Events Center on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.

Stevie Sciullo, Beth’s brother, is also in this episode and we replay the incredibly courageous and heart-wrenching eulogy he made in front of thousands of people.

My Aunt Susie talks about being overwhelmed by the experience. She mentions seeing police officers from all over the world, including "bobbies" from England, who came to pay tribute to Paul and the other two slain officers, Stephen Mayhle and Eric Kelly.
https://www.post-gazette.com/breaking/2009/04/08/Police-citizens-pay-tribute-to-3-slain-officers/stories/200904080178

A story that my Uncle Max tells at the end of this episode mentions Cross Fit Gym. Paul was a member at Cross Fit Pittsburgh. After he was killed, Cross Fit created a custom workout of the day (WOD) in honor of Paul. It’s called "Paul 4179" – named after his badge number.

Episode 5: Stick A Fork In Me

Paul made an impression on a lot of people - but no one more than his mom. After she first laid eyes on him as a baby, she said, "Stick a fork in me, I'm done." Never could she love anyone or anything more. This and other stories of profound love and respect for Paul await you in our fifth and final episode.

Show Notes

This episode captures the deeply emotional stories that poured out from friends, classmates, teammates - even perfect strangers - who wanted to share a personal experience they had with Paul or talk about why they are inspired by his life. You can imagine there are a few hockey stories, Paul was captain of Central Catholic High School's team for 4 years. There are stories about Paul's love of family and the way he lit up a room with his smile. And there is one, almost miraculous story, about a little girl with Down Syndrome who talks to Paul to this day and reveals something to his mother that is beyond belief. But as I hope you've discovered from these podcasts, nothing about Paul is beyond belief. That was just...Paul.

In this episode, Uncle Max reads a letter from a guy in California who went to grade school and high school with Paul.

There are also two profound letters from Paul's hockey teammates at Central Catholic. One of them was Kevin Acklin, COO and General Counsel of the Pittsburgh Penguins National Hockey League Team.

They talk about the Paul J. Sciullo Memorial hockey game they organized in honor of Paul that raised money for Paul's scholarship fund at Central Catholic.

You'll hear about Paul being only the second athlete in his high school's history to have his jersey retired. The other athlete was NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.

Duquesne University is mentioned a number of times for the memorials and tributes they've held for Paul. One of them is from Professor Norm Conti, who never taught Paul, but created an award in his name within the Psychology Department.

Paul's parents were stunned when, one day, they got a call from the organizers of a golf tournament at St. Bonaventure University. They wanted to honor Paul at their tournament, which he had won nearly two decades ago when he played golf for Duquesne University.

There were (and still are) many amazing tributes, dedications, fundraisers and memorials for Paul and his fellow officers who perished that day. Here are some links where you can get an idea of the incredible outpouring of love the City of Pittsburgh and the nation bestowed on these brave officers.

A song beautifully composed and performed by Pittsburgh legendary musician Bill Deasy in honor of Paul.

A sculptor of St. Michael the Arch Angel, Patron Saint of Police, by James Simon stands in front of the church where Paul attended Mass and went to grade school.

The Pittsburgh Penguins hockey organization, along with the City of Pittsburgh, built a deck hockey rink in Bloomfield, in honor of Paul.

The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) sponsored a memorial floragraph of Paul in the 2015 Rose Bowl Parade. It now proudly hangs in the living room of his parents' home in Bloomfield.

Floragraph

There is also an incredible story about Chloe and her special connection to Paul. Chloe has Down Syndrome, her father Kurt was a former Pittsburgh Police Officer who knew Paul. Kurt would bring Chloe to Aunt Susie and Uncle Max's house to visit after Paul was killed. Chloe would kiss Paul's photo and start talking to him. She would also visit the cemetery where Paul is buried. She would jump out of the car, run to Paul's memorial, and kiss his face.

Cemetery where Paul is buried

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Paul J. Sciullo II

Fallen Heroes Fund

In 2012, a fund was established at The Pittsburgh Foundation to maintain The Permanent Memorial for the Fallen Heroes, located in front of St. Maria Goretti Church (formerly St. Joseph’s Church) in Bloomfield. The memorial is a statue of St. Michael the Archangel, patron saint of police. Paul grew up in Bloomfield, his parents still live there, and when he became a Pittsburgh Police Officer he asked to be assigned to Zone 5 so he could protect the neighborhood he loved the most. If you would like to donate to the fund in Paul's memory, please click here. Thank you.

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The Permanent Memorial for the Fallen Heroes in Bloomfield

Permanent Memorial for the Fallen Heroes

The Permanent Memorial for the Fallen Heroes in Bloomfield was designed by local sculptor James Simon. Aunt Susie and Uncle Max didn’t want the memorial to be just about the police because in their minds all first responders are important, so we made plaques dedicated to Firefigthers, EMS and Public Safety workers. The memorial is located in front of St. Maria Goretti Church (formerly St. Joseph's Church) in Bloomfield where our families attended church and went to grade school.

Bill Deasy

"I'll Come To You" Tribute Song

Legendary Pittsburgh singer/songwriter Bill Deasy collaborated with Bill Garrison (more accurately, he put up with Bill) to produce a song in honor of Paul and all police officers who answer the call. The song is called, "I'll Come To You" and it has been performed by Bill Deasy and members of his band at several of the anniversary events around the city.

I'll Come to You

I'll Come to You (Acoustic)

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