NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thousands of people gathered on Long Island to bid a final farewell to an NYPD sergeant who was killed in the line of duty last week during a shootout in the Bronx.
Family, friends and fellow officers lined the streets of Massapequa outside St. Rose of Lima to honor Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo.
Tuozzolo was responding to a domestic call last week when police said he was shot to death by a suspect. A fellow officer, Sgt. Emmanuel Kwo, was shot in the leg. The suspect, career criminal Manuel Rosales, was killed when officers returned fire.
“He made the ultimate sacrifice and by all accounts he was killed by somebody who shouldn’t be out on the streets,” Acting Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said.
Tuozzolo, 41, was a married father of two young boys. He had 19 years on the force and could have retired in less than a year.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, thousands of officers broke down watching widow Lisa Tuozzolo during the dignified, difficult procession from the funeral of the man she loved.
Their two toddler sons Jospehs and Austin appeared unable to comprehend that their father had been killed.
“Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo was everything we could ever wish for in an officer — conscientious, hardworking, selfless, courageous, driven to protect,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said.
The sergeant’s infectious spirit was felt all around New York. Born in Bayville, Tuozzolo had been commuting to the Bronx from Huntington.
“I live not too far away from where he does and his reputation in the community, he’s one of the best and reputation in the NYPD is beyond reproach,” Krumpter said. “He’s a true hero.”
Inside the church dignitaries honored Sgt. Tuozzolo — among them Mayor de Blasio and Cardinal Dolan.
Under a clear blue sky ten helicopters in formation flew over the church.
Nearby schools were closed Thursday so children could also pay their respects to a local hero.
“They’re here, they’re risking our lives for us,” student Patrick Signorile said.
“I’m just sad because there are cops here honoring a person who got killed trying to protect us,” student Ava Gaudioso said.
Her mother said this is a day she hopes her children can learn from.
“I think it’s very important that they respect and honor the hero that has just lost his life for our safety,” Nancy Gaudioso said.
The Miller family — their father a detective — said the day was the best education they could have.
“I think this is important for my own children to see this could happen to their dad someday,” Noreen Miller said.
On Wednesday, officers from around the country gathered throughout the day at a funeral home in Bethpage for Tuozzolo’s wake.
Fellow officers hugged each other, and some wiped away tears as they lined up to bid farewell to Tuozzolo, WCBS 88’s Mike Xirinachs reported.
“Always a great person, phenomenal supervisor, leader, qualities that we in the police department seek so often,” said NYPD Inspector Fausto Pichardo.
Fellow officer James Hasper remembered his friend as “the greatest guy in the world.”