TOWN OF HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Fellow police officers are remembering NYPD Officer Anastasios Tsakos as a good guy and a hero.
But to his neighbors, the man known as “Taso” was an incredibly loving and involved father, who only just moved in last summer but quickly made a big impression. He was stuck and killed by an alleged drunk driver early Tuesday morning on the Long Island Expressway.READ MORE: CDC Announces New Mask Guidance For People Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19
“My brother was a great guy. He was not selfish at all. He loved being a cop, you know. We kept telling him to be careful, but that’s what he liked and what he wanted to do,” his brother, Teddy, said.
There was overwhelming sadness in the East Northport community where the 43-year-old highway cop and his young family recently moved in.
“We just pray for his wife and his kids,” a tearful Rosemarie Giancalone told CBS2s Carolyn Gusoff on Tuesday. “An amazing father, husband, and we saw him every day.”
The Giancalones, who live next door, described Tsakos as a beautiful man who came to their rescue when they were both sick with COVID.
“He brought us food and went to the supermarket, whatever you guys need,” said Rosemarie Giancalone.
“He brought us soups, he went to the supermarket, brought us cold cuts. He actually was in my house helping me put up the molding,” Simone Giancalone added.
Tsakos was often seen in the driveway playing with his young kids — a 3-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.
“He was a super dedicated father with his kids,” Simone Giancalone said.
“Just terrible, terrible news. He was such a nice guy,” added Joe Maneri. “It’s very hard to hear, just devastating.”
“Now these poor children gotta grow up with out a father, all because of a drunk driver. It’s not right,” neighbor Steven Mandera said.
“I just cant believe that this has happened again and each time it seems to be closer and closer and closer to home,” neighbor Dean Nichol said.
Watch Carolyn Gusoff’s report —
NYPD widows with the group Survivors of the Shield rushed to the home to let the officer’s grieving wife, Irene, know they are there for her always.READ MORE: Israel Attacks Gaza Strip As Violence Intensifies
“We just want them to know they’re not alone, we’ve all been through it. But every circumstance is different, and privacy is important to her. She’s still trying to accept what happened,” Maggine McDonald said.
Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci ordered flags to be flown at half staff in honor of Tsakos, and both the Nassau and Suffolk county police benevolent associations shared their condolences for his family.
“Members of the Nassau County Police Department and the NYPD share a unique bond. We are united in our mission to keep New Yorkers safe and when a member of law enforcement is killed in the line of duty, we also share the sense of loss,” Nassau PBA President James McDermott said in a statement. “We extend our sincerest condolences to the loved ones and family of Officer Tsakos, and all those within the NYPD family who are grieving this loss. This is a tragic reminder of the dangers faced by all those who wear the uniform.”
“Officer Tsakos made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of all New Yorkers. This tragedy strikes at the core of our communities, both local and national, as Police Officers continue to be vilified by political opportunists,” Suffolk SBA President Noel DiGerolamo said in a statement of his own. “The Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association stands united with the Tsakos family along with our grieving brothers and sisters in the NYPD, today and always. We offer our thoughts to the family and loved ones of Officer Tsakos, who now face the worst fears of every law enforcement family.”
Tsakos was originally from Astoria, and for years, he and his family lived in Flushing.
“Something you can’t believe, you know? He was such a good man,” former neighbor Chris Kassimis told CBS2’s Nick Caloway.
“This is all like a bad dream. It’s all a bad dream,” said Anna Yiatrou, a friend and former neighbor.
Yiatrou says her daughter played with Tsakos’ children.
“He was a dedicated father, a dedicated police officer. My daughter respects police officers because she knows the type of individual he was,” she said.
Grief turned to anger for some close friends, who did not mince words about the allegedly drunk driver who took the life of a hero.
“It’s disgusting. It’s digusting,” Yiatrou said. “She should burn in hell. Because right now, she left two children, two children, without a father.”
Tsakos was married to Irene for seven years. He was also a devoted son. His family owned diners across Long Island and Queens.
A GoFundMe page has been started to help Tsakos’ wife and children during this unimaginable time: gofundme.com/f/beloved-nypd-officer-killed-by-drunk-driverMORE NEWS: Bronx Man Takes It Upon Himself To Clean Up NYC Park, But City Says Not So Fast
CBS2’s Nick Caloway contributed to this report.