NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A wake will be held Sunday and a funeral Monday for a police officer who died after being critically hurt in a fire on Coney Island.
Flags are at half-staff as the city mourns the loss of Officer Dennis Guerra. His NYPD brothers and sisters held a memorial ceremony outside police headquarters Wednesday, including a helicopter flyover in Guerra’s honor.
Guerra, 38, succumbed to his injuries shortly before 7 a.m. Wednesday at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, police said. The married father of four had more than seven years on the job.
“Police Officer Guerra gave his life trying to save others and that is the ultimate selfless act,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said.
Guerra was one of two officers critically hurt in last Sunday’s blaze that police said was started when 16-year-old Marcell Dockery allegedly lit a mattress on fire in the hallway of a high-rise at 2007 Surf Avenue.
Guerra’s colleague, 36-year-old Rosa Rodriguez, remained Wednesday at the burn unit at Weill Cornell Medical Center. Rodriguez is a single mother of four kids and a four-year veteran of the NYPD Housing Bureau.
Both officers were overcome by smoke and carbon monoxide while responding to Sunday’s fire. They were hit by a wall of smoke when they reached the 13th floor by elevator.
On radio transmissions, the officers could be heard gasping for air.
The FDNY was just minutes behind them. Bratton said firefighters found the officers “unconscious and unresponsive” in the hallway.
Dockery has been charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment, but police are expected to upgrade the charges to felony murder as early as Friday.
Police said he confessed to starting the fire because he was bored. Thirteen others were also injured in the blaze, including three firefighters.
“A kid like that, who is bored, needs to realize every action there’s a reaction and that reaction sometimes is life or death,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said. “In this case, it was death. It’s not a free ride, he should pay. He murdered a New York City police officer and we won’t forget that.”
Officer Guerra was survived by his wife Cathy and their four children – Kathleen, 20; Jonathan, 17; Alyssa, 14; and Zachary, 7.
The Silver Shield Foundation announced it is collecting funds to help cover college expenses for Guerra’s children.
The foundation, started by George Steinbrenner in 1982, raises funds to pay for the educational costs of spouses and children of firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty throughout the Tri-State area.
Police said Guerra is the first NYPD officer to die in the line of duty since 2011, when Officer Peter Figoski was shot and killed while responding to a robbery in Brooklyn.
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