CARMEL, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A giant American flag hung over Route 52 suspended by two fire truck ladders as thousands of police officers formed a solid blue line Thursday, a somber salute to fallen Poughkeepsie Police Detective John Falcone who was shot and killed in the line of duty.
Poughkeepsie Police Detective John Falcone was eulogized as a hero, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports
“Every day a routine call could be tragic, could end your life, so the least I could do is be here for him,” said Detective Sergeant Mark Rathbun of the Syracuse Police Department.
Thursday’s funeral mass was held at St. James the Apostle Church on Gleneida Avenue in Carmel, Falcone’s hometown, and led by Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
“We’re here to pray for God’s mercy so that this brave man may enjoy a reunion with the Lord,” said Archbishop Dolan.
One mourner watched Archbishop Dolan consoling the fallen officer’s parents without saying a word.
“He makes eye contact with Mr. and Mrs. Falcone from the altar,” Dutchess County Executive William Steinhaus told CBS 2’s Lou Young. “He takes his crucifix, kisses it, and he looks right over to them and winks and nods, and that’s the kind of celebration of the faith and spirit that was felt today.”
The 18-year veteran officer was remembered as a hero for stepping up to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Falcone was gunned down Friday during a shootout with 27-year-old Lee Welch, a Catskill native who, police said, had just shot his own wife, 28-year-old Jessica Welch, in front of the couple’s 3-year-old daughter.
The girl escaped unharmed. Fellow officers praised their brother in blue for his heroic actions.
“A very good man, very good man, one of the top officers in the police department,” said Lt. Thomas Jones of the New York State Police.
MTA Police Officer Paul Carufe worked with Falcone at the train station where it all happened.
“Great guy, quiet. No cop deserves this, and if you know John, you know how humble John is,” Officer Carufe said.
“It hits you in the heart,” fellow Poughkeepsie Officer Tom Keith said. “I really can’t say any more than that – it hits you in the heart.”
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Friends both on and off the force remembered Falcone as a cop’s cop, a quiet man who lived to serve and died doing what he loved best.
“That’s exactly where he wanted to be. It’s a special moment in my heart that one of my several friends went into law enforcement and gave his life for it. So I’m proud of him. I really am,” said friend Mike Ansbro.
“I’ve known John since I was 14 – he’ll always be a hero to me,” friend Delores Spero told Young. “He’s touched so very many people.”
Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik declared Thursday a “Day of Remembrance” in honor of Falcone.
Falcone’s burial was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Earlier in the week, hundreds paid their respects at Falcone’s wake. He was posthumously promoted to detective Tuesday. His shield number — 22 — has been retired and Falcone has been awarded the department’s first medal of honor.