Public Viewing for Fallen Scranton Officer

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SCRANTON -- Hundreds of people have come to downtown Scranton to pay their respects. This public viewing is the first step in saying goodbye to Patrolman John Wilding.

Patrolman Wilding's casket and his family are inside the theater at Lackawanna College where Wilding graduated from the police academy.

At times the line to get in to the viewing rounded the corner onto North Washington Avenue.

Hundreds of people -- Wilding's police family, friends, and many who never met him -- came to pay their respects.

It's something a police department's honor guard is trained to do, but hopes to never have to. His fellow officers carried Patrolman John Wilding's casket through the doors of the school where he learned to be a police officer.

Following behind were each member of the Scranton Police Department, fire department, and Lackawanna County detectives, even some retired officers who never had to experience something like this in their careers.

"It's kind of devastating knowing what these fellows go through, and he's such a young guy and such a young family, and he had such a great future ahead of him," said retired Scranton Police Captain Frank Roche.

Patrolman John Wilding, 29, was a beat officer in west Scranton. He was injured during a foot chase Saturday and died less than 24 hours later. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

"I guess he was well known," said Donald Knight. "You know, he walked the beat in west side so, I mean, he probably made a lot of friends."

People who knew his face or reputation as a proactive officer, people who knew Wilding all his life, and people who never met him made up the hundreds who stood in line to pay their respects.

"(I feel) sorrow, just really ,really sad, for the families, especially for the young ones," said Scranton resident Carol Apgar.

"Just paying respects to an officer of the law who was hurt in the line of duty," said Joseph Felker of Scranton. It's pretty sad, really sad."

Law enforcement came out, too, including state police, led in by Tiffany Dickson, who lost her husband Corporal Bryon Dickson last September in Blooming Grove.

"I think who it affects are the husbands and wives of the police officers because it's now in the forefront of their minds when their spouse leaves the house every day, are they going to come back or are they going to get injured?" said Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright.

Diane Thomas knows that feeling all too well. Her son trained John Wilding when he joined the force last year.

"For John's family and my son, my son is very, I mean he's doing the eulogy tomorrow, so, it's important to all of us."

People can come and pay their respects through 8 p.m. Thursday.

Patrolman Wilding's funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m Friday at St. Peter's Cathedral in downtown Scranton.

To allow the Scranton Police Department to mourn, state police and several other departments in Lackawanna County are handling emergency calls in the city.

You can watch the ceremony live on WNEP-2 and on wnep.com.

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