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A Passion for Crime Fighting Leads to a Fatal Fall

SCRANTON– Police officer John Wilding may have only been on the job for 15 months, but he was a fixture in Charley’s West Side Cafe. According to ow...

SCRANTON-- Police officer John Wilding may have only been on the job for 15 months, but he was a fixture in Charley's West Side Cafe.

According to owner Charles Davis, sometimes Wilding would sit on his favorite stool near the door and have a coffee and a cinnamon roll. Other times he would keep in touch by text, responding to suspicious activity Davis noticed through the cafe's big window.

Davis says Wilding had a passion for working his beat, trying to help the neighborhood fight crime. His motivation was simple, helping people.

Early Saturday morning, Davis heard about police activity in the neighborhood and sent Wilding a text asking if he was okay.

He never got an answer.

Davis later learned that during a foot chase, Wilding had been injured in a fall near a bar on North Main Avenue. Then, early Sunday morning, he learned his friend was dead.

He said, "You don't want to see any police officer get hurt, but we were really really hoping it wasn't him. He was too young, he was too good at what he did, he cared too much."

Wilding leaves behind a wife and a young son and daughter. The cafe is raising money by donating the proceeds of its coffee sales, and making black and blue memorial ribbons.

Investigators say Wilding died after jumping over an ivy-covered wall with a 15 foot drop-off as police chased a trio of teenage suspects.

Officers believe Nasiir Jones, Isiah Edwards and Tanner Curtis tried to rob a man at gunpoint. Then, they were spotted driving a SUV that had been reported stolen. When the trio left the vehicle and fled, police started chasing them on foot leading to the fatal fall.

The teens were arrested and charged as adults with a number of criminal counts in connection with the alleged stick-up, and the SUV, but have not been charged with Wilding's death.

That could change in the days ahead, according to Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Gene Talerico. He tells Newswatch 16 that the law allows the charge of second degree murder when an officer dies pursuing someone who had committed a felony.

As he was taken away in handcuffs Saturday night, Tanner Curtis expressed remorse for what had happened.

"We are sorry for our actions," he said. "If I wasn't there this would have never happened."