PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The community continues to mourn 23-year-old Charles Stipetich.
Police said 40-year-old Kevin McSwiggen of Pittsburgh shot and killed an off-duty Stipetich on Sunday night after an alleged road rage situation on Route 28.
Pastor Dan Smail at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Shaler Township said Stipetich was a beacon of light, not just for the congregation but for the community. The pastor said the church's goal is to keep Stipetich's legacy going.
"The news is terrible. It's tragic. It's hitting us all and all of us are feeling this very, very serious loss," Smail said.
He said Stipetich grew up at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. The Oakdale Police Department officer was a source of joy for the church community, serving as an inspiration to others.
"He had an infectious laugh, always had a smile on his face. When he came into this place, he brought a certain light and joy with him," Smail said.
Stipetich was always putting others before himself, Smail said. Stipetich went on mission trips with the church and was focused on service. He dedicated his life to that, being a Marine and serving in law enforcement.
"He was a servant. He gave a lot of himself, and we need to lift that up," the pastor told KDKA-TV on Wednesday.
The church knows his funeral Saturday will be challenging and emotional.
"It's going to be difficult when we gather in this sanctuary on Saturday morning. The loss is going to present. We're all going to feel it," Smail said.
The community wants this to be a celebration of life and hopes his legacy will live on.
"That will truly honor this man's life and celebrate all his contributions," Smail said.
According to Stipetich's obituary, his visitation is Friday. KDKA-TV has learned that on Saturday, there will be a police escort of his body from the funeral home to the church in Shaler Township.
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