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Father of fallen Akron police officer knows the pain family of CPD Det. Skernivitz is dealing with

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Posted at 5:48 PM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 20:18:10-04

AKRON, Ohio — When Rob Winebrenner heard about the murder of Cleveland Detective James Skernivitz, painful memories came rushing back.

"Jim should have never died but they (CPD) lost somebody and that's painful," Winebrenner said.

Winebrenner, a retired Barberton police officer, knows firsthand the agony the Skernivitz family is facing.

In 2014, Winebrenner's son, Akron police officer Justin Winebrenner, was shot and killed while trying to protect customers at an Akron pub.

Justin Winebrenner

"Five years and ten months ago, my son was taken," he said. "It's painful. It never goes away. It'll never leave you."

Justin Winebrenner, a seven year veteran of the force, was off duty at Papa Don's Pub on East Market Street when he tried to remove a man with a gun identified as Kenan Ivery.

However, Ivery fired several shots killing the 32-year-old officer and injuring others. Ivery is serving a sentence of life in prison.

"You don't take the uniform off. You have a responsibility to act whether you're in uniform or you're not in uniform," Rob Winebrenner said.

Winebrenner stressed that what happened in Cleveland underscores that first responders put their lives on the line every day.

"They're faced every day with life-threatening situations."

Winebrenner said he still receives strong community support years after his family tragedy and has a close relationship with Justin's daugther, Charlee, who is now 10-years-old.

"She is one of the things that Justin left behind for us to cherish and that's a very good thing."

Winebrenner said his thoughts remain with the Skernivitz family and wants them to know that the brotherhood and sisterhood in blue are with them.

"I'm sorry that happened and we pray. I'll definitely attend the services and we'll all be there. We'll rally around."