Nassau PBA President: Civilian Shouting ‘Gun’ Led To Friendly Fire Shooting Death

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Nassau County police officer shot and killed in a case of friendly fire Saturday night will be laid to rest following his funeral on Friday.

Special Operations Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf, 40, was shot and killed by an MTA officer following a confrontation with knife-wielding man at a Long Island home.

WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs with the latest on who may have shouted out ‘gun’

Police are still investigating the circumstances that led to the shooting, but Nassau County PBA President James Carver told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera that the tragic accident may have occurred because a man at the scene yelled ‘gun’ when he saw Breitkopf with a rifle.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera speaks with PBA President James Carver

“Some of the officers that I’ve spoken to said that they did hear somebody yell ‘gun.’ It was a civilian. It wasn’t one of our police officers that did that,” Carver said. “I think that’s what led to this MTA confrontation with Geoff, which resulted in his death.”

While he was known to other cops at the scene, Carver said two MTA officers “didn’t recognize who he was.”

It’s believed that one of those MTA officers, Glen Gentile, shot and killed Breitkopf.  Gentile has been a member of the MTAPD force since 2006.  He was at the LIRR Massapequa Park train Station Saturday evening before heading to the scene to provide backup.

The MTA released a statement Monday stating the agency and the officer involved were “fully cooperating with Nassau County Police Department’s investigation into the tragic accidental death of Nassau County Officer Breitkopf.”

The friendly fire shooting came a full eight to thirteen minutes after police had arrived at the Massapequa Park scene and came upon 21-year-old Anthony Digeronimo, who had knives strapped to his body and in his hands, according to Detective Lt. Kevin Smith.

Digeronimo allegedly ran into his parents’ home, barricaded himself inside a bedroom before charging police with a knife. Police drew their weapons before shooting and killing Digeronimo, Smith said.

Officer Breitkopf leaves behind his wife, Paula, and two young sons Owen, 3, and Connor, 6.

More from Mona Rivera
  • herald123

    exactly, a coverup. find out the truth, it won’t be easy

  • David Ruffin

    A tragedy all around. Why didn’t they try to wait out the perp? Tear gas….stun gun……he bolted out of the bedroom, hands raised, knives in hand….but why were they so close to the bedroom in the first place? Very confusing. As to the horrible loss of Breitkopf – as he walked on the scene, with no visible shield – why didn’t he know the incident was already over? Why did he need his rifle if the incident was over? And why did the MTA cop shoot Breitkopf when Breitkopfs rifle wasn’t raised in shooting position? At the mention of the word “gun” by whomever…..the MTA cop shot, within seconds? This is the saddest story I’ve ever heard on Long Island.

  • Holly marrano

    wow Alex.. i thought the same thing.. the story , unfortunately would be different and josh.don’t be silly of course we know it isnt a matter of race.. or it should not be.. but the fact IS .the story would have been different if the officer was african american.. dont say you cant imagine it.. cause its bs.. no one said the story SHOULD be different but the fact is it WOULD be different.. and i feel bad for the MTA guy after all he is a police officer.. its the retired nyc cop that i question.. i mean come on. and also the nassau county cop .. did he come out of the car with a rifle in hand?? wihtout identifying himself..?? what was that all about?

  • Upstate_Observer

    Folks are saying “civilian”, when it fact that person was INSIDE the confines of an active homicide shooting investigation. To my knowledge the only non-law enforcement personnel allowed inside those bubbles are 1st responders, the Medical Examiner’s staff, the coroner’s staff, evidence team, the district attorney’s office, and/or some representative of the jurisdiction’s management (mayor’s office or county exec’s office).

    This “civilian” was a retired NYPD Police Sgt with over 25 years “on the job”. Whose fault is it that he was inside the perimeter of an active investigation? Whatever dept was responsible for maintaining the integrity of that scene.

    Police are trained to understand the physiological changes the body goes thru from exposure to stress, and in particular shootings. Unfortunately, this training is not put into practice enough for these types of situations. If I were a police officer, I would NOT venture into a recently contained crime scene with a long gun, but without a police jacket, no matter how many of my colleagues were recognizable to me.

  • Judy L. Snow

    Iam SORRY but all this about the officer what about Anthony??? Iam a very close friend of the family I have to say if we had seen the signs of what was going on NO ONE would be dead!! IAM SORRY for the lose of the officer who was doing his job BUT on the other hand what about Anthonys Family?? A Father watching his son gunned down cause They couldn’t handle a 125 pound 6’3 foot man with PROBLEMS!!!LETS shoot ask later!! Just cause they have guns DOES NOT mean you should always use them! Sorry but NOW I have to attend a funeral of a 21 yr old who DID NOT DESERVE to die

    • Dan_USMC_1978

      Sorry Judy but the cops are WELL within their right to shoot ANY suspect charging at them with a dangerous weapon. You are obviously biased as you admit you are friends with the family, so you are not looking at this objectively. If they didnt shoot, the cop may not be able to ask questions later because the cop couldve been killed! I also question why if it was known he had problems his parents allowed their son to have such dangerous weapons.

      • Karen

        Well put Dan. If it was a well known fact that this 21 year old had problems, then he should have been receiving help, not allowed to own any type of weapons. It is a tragedy for both sides, but for Anthony, there’s no defending his actions.

      • Dan_USMC_1978

        Thank you Karen – Let me stress I am not belittling Judy for her opinion…Its a tragic story all around, and I am sorry for the loss of both men’s lives. But as I previously stated, a cop – who has a family of his own might i add – has every right to defend himself so that he can uphold the law and make it home to his wife and kids…My father was NYPD homicide for 20 years, and I am a US Marine combat vet. The old saying of “shoot first ask questions later”is NOT true. We always question whther to shoot, and even when justified are haunted for years to come…Thanks again for sticking up for me Karen….=)

  • Bushel Foote

    Yes…..Training……..or the lack of it……Cops are just people,people…..they’re subject to making the same kind of stupid,tragic,reflex-driven responses to situations as we ALL can be…..This time they got one of their own….I Hate It…..but…Whatcha gonna do?……….Condolences to the family…………..

  • Josh

    Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf is not dead because someone yelled, “GUN!!!” He is dead because an MTA Officer shot and killed him. There is a problem with the training that these officers receive. They are taught to shoot to kill, ask later. It is due to this poor training that so many of our local police are trigger happy. It isn’t about race, “GUN” or the claim that a cop’s life was on the line. It’s about training and the result here was tragic.

    • Kazoo

      Josh, come out from under the rock you live under and learn the facts before you make such moranic statements

  • Alex

    This is a horrible tragedy for everyone involved. I’m sorry I have to mention this, but can you imagine how different this story, and peoples reactions to it, would be if Officer Breitkopf was African American?

    • Josh

      No, we can’t imagine because it isn’t a matter of race.

  • Jim Gordon

    Special Operations Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf, 40, was shot and killed by an MTA officer.
    So the window of Geoffrey Breitkopf, should find a good Lawyer / Legal Firm to file for wrongfull death civil law suit against MTA and the MTA office who killed him.

    This should teach the MTA police to ask for shooting a local police officer!!!!

  • please

    come on, someone yelled gun, please. rambo walks on crime scene with shotgun in hand and plain clothes – how is anyone to know it isn’t the brother of the dead guy looking to take revenge? how this sht happens is beyond me. now this guys kids have no dad over really stupid sht.
    I hate to say it, but in a professional environment, the dead guy would of instead been in pilgram state getting medication, and all of the cops would have gone home safe. serious problem w nassau and LI cops in general.

  • capt. bill's daughter

    my condolences to officer breitkopf’s widow and 2 young sons. i got a bit choked up when i addressed 2 of his brother officers who i saw at the hospital where i work today. my dad was 34 yrs in the nypd, and although there is time and jurisdiction differences, the emotions are there. it only takes a moment to let these men & women in uniform that you are sorry for their loss. it humanizes us all. rip officer breitkopf. thanks for your service and sacrifice.

  • Steve B.

    We really don’t know if the MTA officer had any kind of confrontation or exchange of words with the Nassau office shot, nor do we know if the MTA officer did a “Stop or I’ll shoot, put down the weapon” kind of exchange. We also have no info. on what kind of rifle the Nassau officer was carrying, nor do we know if he was wearing any kind of ID of identifying clothing. So any commentary about stuff we don’t know is useless.

    My very first question was why were MTA officers responding in the first place ?. They have no jurisdiction nor responsibility outside the physical properties of the MTA, so why would they respond at all ?. Had they stuck to their jobs, this sad incident would never have occurred.

    • Charlie H

      Actually, an MTA Police Officers Jurisdiction is as follows:
      MTAPD are fully empowered under the New York State Public Authorities Law and are commissioned in the state of Connecticut. Its jurisdiction extends across fourteen counties in two states, covers approximately 5,000 square miles, including New York City, Long Island, southeastern New York State and southern Connecticut, and serves a population of 14.4 million people.
      The police officers in question were responding to the call over the radio, to assist their fellow officers. THEY WERE STICKING TO THEIR JOBS! This is an incredibly unfortunate incident that occurred on Saturday night. Respect should be given to all Police Officers involved.
      In the future, do some research before stating false facts.

      • Kazoo

        Thank you Charlie, at least someone has some commom sense. Between these people posting about suing the MTA and that the cops weren’t train properly is absolutely assine. Until anyone of you who are posting have been in a situation like what happened that night, please keep your comments to yourselves. Not only does the slained officer’s family have to live without him, the MTA officer has to live with the fact that he killed another officer. In essence TWO officers died that night. May God have mercy on both.

    • Bazooka Joe

      Steve B. – Your ignorance is only surpassed by your arrogant comments. To answer your “very first question”, the MTA officers were responding firslty to backup the Nassau Officer’s whose lives may have been potentially at risk by a knife wielding maniac. Secondly, the MTA Police have juristicional authority ALL OVER NY state. That means, on highways, streets, and roads – car stops can be conducted. That means, ANY police action can be taken anywhere. You ignorantly believe MTA Police are held to an imaginary forcefield around the “physical properties of the MTA”. You are wrong and perhaps should either be more assertive in your attempts to appear knowledgeable on this topic or remain silent aout issues you know nothing about. And let me ask you this, if you were being stabbed by that knife weilding assailant, across the street from the Massapequa Park train station, I suppose you wouldn’t want the MTA Police, who are as authorized as the Nassau Police or State Police to enforce the laws of the county, to help you out, would you?

  • 10-13

    The saddest part of this is that it should not have happened and might have been prevented if the Special Operations Officer had on something to ID himself plainly in large letters that say POLICE front and back. These are sometimes referred to as “raid jackets” and can be as simple as a windbreaker with the POLICE LOGOS both front and rear.

    Responding as he did, with no Police markings to ID himself as one of the good guys, all it takes is somebody to yell out “gun” and your adrenaline is already pumped up and you turn and fire.

    Where was that raid jacket or similar type of identification? And why no body armor? It is designed to save lives. This is the double tragedy. Not only was this Nassau County Police Officer’s life taken, but the MTA Police Officer has to live with this horrible event and suffer the anguish of killing a brother law enforcement officer.

    It’s truly horrible. So sorry to hear.

  • Walking the line

    So out w/all the PO there you’re telling me that this genius “civilian” was the only one brilliant enough to realize that there may be a threat at the scene? Civilians are not reliable at all when it comes to crime scenes — something’s missing in this story. A PO will not open fire w/out trying to get the suspect to surrender the weapon first. The BSO officer and all others have ebnough training in this to freeze in their tracks if someone yells freeze or drop the gun– THEIR LIVES are on the line…. Was there a verbal warning/ an attempt for identification? Brietkopf wasn’t even holding the gun in his hand -0-i twas slung over his shoulder!!!! This is a huge tragic accident– dont’ start lookng at is at a cover up–it’s a tragedy for the NPD Officer and the MTA officer. The only redemption to this story is that A. Degeronimo was killed and the world is safer w/out him. Unfortunately a brave man lost his life because of the chaos/hystery that psycho left at the scene.

  • Bernie Sanders


  • Tommy

    What is a police officer in Nassau county doing with a rifle?

    • NYPD-fam

      He was a member of BSO– Special ops/ kind of like a SWAT team…. the exact type of “rifle” hasn’t been id’ed but it’s standard to Swat teams in most places

      • Tommy

        Is that type of weapon really necessary to use in Nassau county? I lived in Nassau county for 30 years and I never heard of a situation which needed riot police swat teams or any of that stuff. It seems like these “special ops” type officers are always involved in problems because nobody knows if they are really cops or not – including other cops.

  • steven

    even if the civilian yelled gun, he did it for a good reason. He didn’t know this man was a police officer, and this man did not identify himself as one. The civilian just knew that it was some guy with a gun, and when you see that usually yelling gun would be acceptable.

  • law and order

    Was wondering how they were going to cover it up.


    A “civilian” yelling “gun.”

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