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'This is the real McKeesport': Officer Charles Thomas, community turn out for baseball tournament in honor of Sean Sluganski

Sean Sluganski memorial baseball tournament
Sean Sluganski memorial baseball tournament 03:01

MCKEESPORT, Pa. (KDKA) — Nearly two months after a shooting killed a McKeesport police officer and hurt another, the community continues to show its support. 

Throughout the weekend, 43 little league baseball teams from as far as West Virginia and Ohio are coming to Renzie Park for "Slugfest," a tournament in honor of McKeesport Officer Sean Sluganski.

Sluganski was right there on the field with his niece and partner on the force, Officer Chuck Thomas, as they both threw out the first pitches.

"I didn't want to ground in the dirt. That was the biggest thing. I haven't thrown a ball since I was a kid," Thomas said.

Nearly two months ago, Thomas was hurt in the shooting that killed Sluganski. The community rallied around both families Friday at Renzie Park. 

"This is real McKeesport, and it's not always the negative stuff. McKeesport really has showed their true colors during this time," Thomas said.

It's something that's helped him, the Sluganskis and the department through this difficult time. Physically, Thomas said he's OK and still has some rehab to do. Mentally is where he said he continues to struggle.

"Getting shot wasn't the hard part. The hardest part was losing somebody," Thomas said. "I spent 10 years on the job, and I took pride in everybody always going home safe. And it broke me down all the way to my knees."

Not a day goes by when he doesn't think of his fellow officer.

"In his last moment, I seen him, and that's all I see, all the time," Thomas said. "Sean fought all the way till the end, and Sean had the spirit of a warrior, and he's always had every one of our backs."

McKeesport Police Chief Adam Alfer said these past weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for the station.

"Sean's going to be missed. He's never going to be forgotten and keep us in your prayers," Alfer said to the crowd while holding back tears.

He said they are hurting.

"We'll never have our old normal back. You just got to find a new pace," Alfer said.

However, as he coaches his son's ball team through the event, he's reminded of all the love from the community.

"It's a good way for people to see how McKeesporters really pull things off and come together," Alfer said.

"I just want them to know that means a lot because just when we think you lost hope, the hope comes right back," Thomas said.

Thomas said he and the Sluganskis are now family and are getting through this together with support from the family of Justin McIntire, who was shot and killed while in the line of duty in Brackenridge.

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