Former Valley police officer in Europe helping Ukrainian refugees

Mar 9, 2022, 3:00 PM

PHOENIX – A former Valley police officer who went to Europe to help Ukrainian refugees during the Russian invasion says “they all have a story to tell.”

“I don’t necessarily ask them, but some of them just start talking and tell me some of the things that are going on there,” Pat Shearer, who lives in Strawberry after retiring from the Peoria Police Department, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Wednesday.

He told Arizona’s Morning News earlier this week he felt compelled to help because he visited Ukraine about a year ago and “fell in love with the country, fell in love with the people.”

The Army veteran said he’s been shuttling Ukrainians, almost all women and children, in need of transportation after they enter Slovakia and Poland.

Shearer has lost track of how many people he’s picked up but said it’s “just a drop in the bucket compared to what’s out there.” He said some speak English, but he also uses a translator app and has a Ukrainian friend he can call for help with the language.

“I’ve been using everything I can to try to communicate with them and at least ask if there’s anything they need or any way that I can help them as I’m driving them,” he said.

The United Nations said 2 million Ukrainians, half of them children, have left their country in the first two weeks of the Russian invasion in the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

Shearer recounted one chilling story about a 55-year-old women who said she killed two Russian soldiers before fleeing Ukraine with her 75-year-old mother.

“She had a home when the Russians first invaded down in the Duma region and she said that she had to kill a Russian soldier there and that this last week she ended up having to kill another one,” he said.

“And it’s obviously really hard on her.”

Shearer also talked about a young woman around 20 years old who tried to get her friends to leave their apartment building in Kyiv after the one next to it got shelled, but they were “just too afraid.”

She ended up leaving by herself and spending a couple of nights sleeping on the floor in a subway station before getting to her mother’s house and then making a two-day trip to the border.

“Just stories like that,” Shearer said, “kids talking about how they were happy their house hasn’t blown up yet but they were sad because their dad was still there and had to fight and couldn’t leave.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Former Valley police officer in Europe helping Ukrainian refugees