CLEVELAND — Those who knew him best said Shane Bartek was beyond excited for what 2022 had in store. Now, his friends and family are planning how to say goodbye. Bartek, a 5th district Cleveland police officer who was off-duty when he was killed in a carjacking attempt on New Year’s Eve, was the kind of person who made those around him better and as dependable as a friend as they come. In his death, Bartek’s friends said they will try to live as he did: vivaciously.
Bartek, 25, was getting ready to head Downtown to watch the Cavs play on New Year’s Eve when, according to police, an 18-year-old woman, Tamara McLoyd, “ambushed” him outside his apartment on Rocky River Drive in Kamm’s Corner. According to police, McLoyd shot Bartek twice in the back after he tried to fight off the carjacking attempt.
According to police, McLoyd drove away in Bartek’s car and later provided it to another individual.
Less than five hours later, police had the man who received the car in custody following a high-speed chase that spanned several different suburbs before ending in an apartment complex parking lot in Euclid.
One of Bartek’s many close friends, Toby Obiako, said he has had a certain malaise since his friend’s death. He can hardly eat. He can hardly sleep. A thick, dense fog blankets everything he does.
“I would give anything, anything to hear his voice again. Just to hear his voice,” Obiako said. “I would give anything for that until I see him again. He’s never going to leave. He’s always there, he’s always there. I still call him on the phone. It goes to voicemail but I talk to him.”
Obiako, who moved to the United States from his native Nigeria a decade ago, said Bartek was one of the first people to truly get him out of his shell. Their friendship blossomed when Bartek moved back to Cleveland after a semester at the University of Cincinnati.
Bartek had an uncanny ability to care so deeply about others, regardless of whether he had been friends with them for five minutes or five years. This passion for people made him perfect for a career in law enforcement, Obiako said.
“He always had a positive energy — everywhere he goes,” Obiako said. “He wants the best for everybody more than he wants for himself.”
Another one of Bartek’s closest friends, Matt Dargay, described his late friend as the type of person who truly lived his days as if they were his last. Bartek’s dependability as a friend and as an optimist knew no bounds. A part of one of his many circles of friends, Dargay said Bartek was the one who kept the group chat going.
“Shane was the glue to all of it,” Dargay said. “He always wanted to get better and he always wanted others to get better. That’s one thing we shared together: we pushed each other. We need to stay together so we can all get through this together.”
Emily Vulpio was pulled into Bartek’s orbit in elementary and middle schools. The childhood friends remained close all the way through school. Vulpio said Bartek’s magnetic energy was matched only by his friendly and disarming personality.
“It didn’t matter the extent of the relationship, how brief or deep it was, he just cared so deeply about everybody,” Vulpio said. “He really just was rooting for everybody and wanted everybody to live their best life. I feel like if there is anything we can take from this is to do what makes you happy. I hope we can all live the rest of our lives in a way that could make him proud.”