Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Ten years ago today, three Lockport police officers experienced an ordeal that forever links them and continues to haunt them.
The event began when an unstable man opened fire in a city tavern on Feb. 8, 2003 and ended several hours later in a Town of Lockport trailer park with two city officers wounded and the assailant dead after a flurry of gunfire.
K-9 officer Steven D. Ritchie was shot three times and was revived four times by paramedics enroute to the hospital. Capt. Lawrence Eggert was shot in the back, the bullet smashing bones in his shoulder. Lt. Scott Seekins exchanged fire with the shooter and was credited with saving the lives of his brother officers.
It was a national story and Seekins was named 2003 Police Officer of the Year by Parade Magazine and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
”I know how hard (Scott) was working to save our lives,” Ritchie said this week. “If he (Seekins) wasn’t there, we would have been executed. There is no doubt in my mind, we would not be alive today. His award was well deserved.”
Niagara County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Kevin Mack was also under fire and his patrol car was sprayed with bullets. Mack was named the 2003 Deputy of the Year by the New York State Sheriff’s Association.
The shooter, who was armed with an AK-47 assault weapon, got off dozens of shots during the ordeal. Jason Kanalley, 26, of Park Place took his own life around 5 a.m., six hours after it all started.
It is not an anniversary the officers celebrate. Emotional scars, along with the physical ones, remain.
• “I deal with post-traumatic stuff,” Ritchie said.
• “Sometimes at 3 in the morning I wake up with a cold sweat,” said Eggert, who is now Lockport’s police chief.