WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 11, 2014, 09:32 PM

Family and friends grieve over loss of Lt. Jeff Skuza

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -The Fargo police department has dealt with a lot of tragedies over the years but nothing like this.

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -The Fargo police department has dealt with a lot of tragedies over the years but nothing like this.

Lt. Jeff Skuza, a 23 year veteran of the department, committed suicide early this morning while on duty.

Today, a visible shaken police chief talked about Skuza's professionalism, and friendlyface.

Not only was remembrance the focus of a media briefing this afternoon but also resilience.

Police Chief Keith Ternes said the department is not measured by its successes, but how it deals with tragedy and adversity.

Two tough things he is certain his force will handle with grace.

Keith Ternes, Fargo Police Department chief: "Long time Fargo police officer Jeff Skuza died by suicide early this morning."

Skuza was on-duty working the overnight shift.

At 4:30 this morning, he called dispatch, requesting officers be sent to Holy Cross Cemetery.

Ternes: "They located Jeff with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head."

Paramedics were unable to revive Skuza, leaving behind a wife and two teenage children.

Tim Mahoney, Fargo city commissioner: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and we hope to support them in any way we can."

At a briefing this afternoon Mayor Walaker, City Commissioner Tim Mahoney and Police Chief Keith Ternes spoke highly of the man Skuza was on and off duty.

Ternes: "Jeff was a respected co-worker, friend and colleague"

Mahoney: "He was one of those friendly faces of the Fargo police department we all grew to know and respect throughout our time in the community."

Skuza served in many positions.

Ternes: "I think you'd be hard pressed to find anybody that had a bad word to say about him, I don't know of any other way to describe him other than the ultimate professional."

He was a patrol officer, sergeant of numerous departments and lieutenant. He even helped bolster the success of the force's Peer Assistance Crisis Team.

The very team that is helping his brotherhood heal from this tragic event.

Ternes: "Today is a bad day. Tomorrow won't be easier. I suspect that in the coming days we will have some real challenges to confront."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Since the death took place out of city limits, Cass County deputies are continuing the investigation.