NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD is in mourning Saturday after 19-year veteran Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo was killed in the line of duty Friday afternoon and another sergeant was shot in the leg.
Family, friends, neighbors and police officers gathered in Huntington on Long Island, where Tuozzolo lived, holding a vigil in his honor Saturday. Workers painted a blue line in the street in front of his house and stores placed blue ribbons and candles in their windows.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini called Tuozzolo a hero.
“It’s law enforcement that stands in between our communities and the criminals, and each and every day we have to do our best to support our law enforcement,” he said.
On Thursday night, the estranged wife of Manuel Rosales, 35, called 911 to report that he was sitting in a red Jeep outside of her apartment on Beach Avenue in the Van Nest section of the Bronx, police said. She told police Rosales had previously threatened to kill her.
When officers arrived, Rosales was gone.
On Friday, Rosales went back to the apartment, armed with a gun, and forced his way inside, sources said. Rosales’ 29-year-old estranged wife, their 3-year-old son and another 13-year-old child were home at the time, along with the estranged wife’s 50-year-old mother, who called 911, saying Rosales had returned in his red Jeep, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said.
The call went out over radio dispatch and patrol units from the 43rd Precinct responded, but Rosales had fled by the time police arrived at the apartment, O’Neill said.
Around 2:52 p.m., officers in a marked patrol car spotted the red Jeep at Noble and Bronx River avenues – about half a mile away. Four officers approached the vehicle at 1575 Bronx River Ave., and Rosales opened fire with a .35-caliber semiautomatic handgun, O’Neill said.
Tuozzolo, 41, was shot in the head, while 30-year-old Sgt. Emmanuel Kwo was struck in the leg, O’Neill said. Both were taken to Jacobi Medical Center where Tuozzolo was pronounced dead.
Kwo was released from the hospital on Saturday morning, 1010 WINS’s Roger Stern reported.
Two officers returned fire, one of them a 25-year-old recruit who had yet to graduate from the academy and was in his third day of in-field training, sources told CBS2. The officers fired as man as 20 shots, sources said.
“I actually thought they were fireworks,” one woman said.
“They were rapid succession, eight or nine shots,” neighbor Miguel Pino said.
Rosales was pronounced dead at the scene, O’Neill said.
A preliminary investigation indicated that Rosales had 17 prior arrest in Suffolk County, where he was believed to be living.
Tuozzolo had been with the NYPD since 1997 and was just one year shy of being able to retire. He was the father of two young boys ages 3 and 4.
“The city is in mourning. The family of the NYPD is in mourning,” mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The mayor pledged that the city will help Tuozzolo’s family in any way possible.
“We told his wife his mother his father that the NYPD would be with them for their family for as long as they need help for years and years to come,” de Blasio said.
Late Friday, Suffolk County police blocked off the street outside Tuozzolo’s well-kept yellow house in Huntington on Long Island where neighbors were in shock.
Danny Clarke lived next door to Tuozzolo and his family for six years. He called the sergeant “a great guy.”
“I mean, he has two little kids. Nobody wants to go through this,” Clarke said. “Those kids are going to be traumatized for the rest of their life. it’s sad, you know?”
Another neighbor, FDNY EMT Eric Breitfield, told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall the community is “devastated.”
“It’s hard, because you have to wonder how his wife with the kids — you can’t even image what they’re going through,” he said.
Meanwhile, somber officers stood at attention outside the 43rd Precinct, as a motorcade escorted the body of a fallen brother from the hospital.
The president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association released a statement Saturday, saying in part “let all of those who would demonize law enforcement officers across the country look to this hero who, for nineteen years, routinely demonstrated the quiet courage of a man dedicated to protecting others and who made the ultimate sacrifice in that service.”
The NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association launched GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a scholarship fund for Tuozzolo’s children.
A steady stream of mourners placed flowers and candles in front of the precinct, including members of the extended law enforcement family, Stern reported.
“We wake up every morning, you know the chance to not come home to our family, and he unfortunately is not returning home to his,” said a state court officer assigned to the Bronx.
“I came to show my respect,” said the wife of an NYPD officer.
Flags will be flown at half-staff across New York City and Long Island.