On September 9, 2011, officers from the New Castle County Police Department responded to a report of a subject who had been involved in thefts from motor vehicles in the area. While officers were en route to the area, they received additional information that a victim had been attempting to detain the suspect, and had been subsequently stabbed by the suspect before continuing to flee the area.
As Sergeant Szczerba arrived in the area, he was able to locate the suspect a few blocks away from the crime scene. Sergeant Szczerba approached the suspect and ordered him to the ground. The suspect refused to comply and a foot pursuit ensued. During the chase, Sergeant Szczerba deployed his electronic control device in an attempt to subdue the suspect. As he attempted to take the suspect into custody, a violent confrontation took place, during which Sergeant Szczerba was stabbed repeatedly.
Two of these wounds received by Sergeant Szczerba were to his neck and would prove to be fatal. Despite being mortally wounded, he remained engaged with the suspect and was able to detain him until additional officers arrived on scene. Shortly after the arrival of back-up officers, Sergeant Szczerba stood up, took a few steps, and collapsed unconscious. Efforts by on-scene officers, paramedics, and trauma center physicians to save Sergeant Szczerba were unsuccessful. His actions likely prevented other officers from being similarly assaulted and led to the apprehension of his murderer. Sergeant Szczerba was posthumously promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.