Thursday, September 3, 2015

Kindness Amidst The Sorrow

A thank-you for two Philly police officers brought comfort during a terrible time.

Kindness Amidst The Sorrow

Kenny Huckstep, 22, was shot to death on Nov. 15th. His murderer remains at large.
Kenny Huckstep, 22, was shot to death on Nov. 15th. His murderer remains at large. family photo

The murder of Kenneth Huckstep has been a nightmare for his family.

Kenny, 22, was shot to death on Nov. 15th at 1:30am, in the 7300 block of Craig St., near his home on Decatur, where he lived with his parents.

The investigation continues, and his murderer is still at large.

What has brought comfort to his family is the memory of the kindness and compassion of the two Philadelphia police officers who had to break the news to them that Kenny was gone.

So moved was Kenny's grandmothjer, Catherine Lee, that she asked that I write something expressing her family's gratitude to Lt. Mark Bugieda and Ofc. Alfred Williams, who not only stayed with the family as news of Kenny's death sank in, but drove Kenny's parents to the Roundhouse at 8th and Race to speak with detectives.  They waited, then drove them back.

They arranged for officers to do the same thing again the next day.

"They could have been in and out of the house, told us that Kenny was dead, and left," says Catherine, whom Ofc. Williams contacted that night, to ask that she hurry over to Kenny's house, to be with Kenny's mother, who was distraught.  "They stayed with us a very long time. They asked us if we needed a glass of water. They were so gentle and kind. It was like they had all the time in the world for us.

"It was above and beyond," says Catherine.   "They kept asking if there was anyone else we should call. It really touched us. It helped. You don't think, at a time like that, that anything can help. But it did."

The professional and compassionate behavior of Bugieda and Williams does not surprise their captain in the 15th District, Frank Bachmayer.

"They're excellent officers," says Bachmayer. "Mark has been in the department 27 years and has been very involved in the community. Alfred is newer to the district and is just a great police officer.  It's in their personalities to be that way."

Nonetheless, Catherine didn't want the moment to pass without thanking the men for making her family feel cared for at a time of such shock and sorrow.

"You hear bad stories about police officers, and I want people to hear a good story," she says. "We can't thank them enough."

Daily News Columnist
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About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.

Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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