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Veteran Lancaster County deputy dies after collapsing during training

James Kirk
James Kirk

A veteran Lancaster County Sheriff's Office deputy died Tuesday "in the line of duty" after collapsing during a training event, according to a statement released late Tuesday by the sheriff's office.

"It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we must report the death of one of own deputies," according to the statement by Chief Deputy Maj. Matt Shaw.

Dep. James Kirk Jr., 57, of Lancaster, died at Springs Memorial Hospital Tuesday evening after collapsing following a training event at the sheriff's office firing range, Shaw said in the statement.

It is unclear how Kirk died, but the statement indicated he "passed away from what appears to be a medical condition," after being rushed to the hospital.

Lancaster Sheriff Barry Faile said the office is in mourning.

"Deputy Kirk was a true public servant who dedicated his life to the service of others and this community," Faile said. "Our hearts are heavy as we mourn his loss."

Randy Newman, 6th Circuit Solicitor, said Kirk was a "great man from a great family."

The solicitor's office prosecutes the cases made by police officers. Kirk, a veteran detective, handled hundreds of cases in his career, Newman said.

"James Kirk was a super person, a man so many people looked up to," Newman said. " "He was a legend in law enforcement in Lancaster."

Kirk manned the front desk at the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office the past three years after retiring from the Lancaster Police Department in 2015 after a 25-year career with the city. Kirk always had a penchant for community service, said Doug Barfield, staff lawyer for the sheriff's office and the former solicitor in Lancaster County who worked with Kirk on case for decades.

"Everybody in law enforcement knew him and everybody in the community knew him," Barfield said.

Maj. Shaw, undersheriff in Lancaster County, said Kirk's service for 28 years at both departments will never be forgotten.

"Deputy Kirk has proudly and honorably served the citizens of this community for the past 28 years," Shaw said.

Funeral service for Kirk are pending, sheriff's officials said. Both the sheriff's office and police department are expected to participate in the funeral services, police said.

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