Thousands of police officers from around the nation descended upon Massapequa to join family, friends and colleagues of slain New York City Police Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo in mourning at his funeral Thursday.
Tuozzolo, 41, of Huntington, was fatally shot by Manuel Rosales, a 35-year-old ex-con from Brentwood, who had taken his estranged wife and their son hostage in the Bronx before the confrontation shortly before 3 p.m. Friday, police said. Officers returned fire, killing the suspect. NYPD Sgt. Emmanuel Kwo was wounded in the shootout.
“What makes Paul’s life so special—what makes him such a unique man—is quite simple: He was driven by purpose,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill told mourners at St. Rose of Lima church. “The passion Paul had in protecting his loved ones was the very same passion he had in protecting strangers.”
O’Neill posthumously promoted Tuozzolo, a 19-year veteran of the force who was a year away from being eligible for retirement, to Sgt. Special Assignment, drawing applause.
Police officers and recruits from across the Island and as far as way California, Chicago and Boston—plus federal law enforcement agents—lined up in formation for about a mile along Merrick Road to salute Tuozzolo as the NYPD pipes and drums band played “Amazing Grace.”
Blue ribbons adorned trees and utility poles lining streets throughout the community. Hundreds of police on motorcycles from departments across the tri-state area led a procession passed the church. And about a dozen police helicopters did a flyover as officers lifted Tuozzolo’s casket into a hearse.
Family members of other NYPD officers who were killed in the line of duty came to show support, as did a host of local and congressional elected officials, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who praised Tuozzolo for his final act of heroics.
“He could’ve sent his fellow officers forward,” the mayor said, recalling how Tuozzolo approached the suspect’s vehicle. “But he stepped forward. That is the measure of a man.”
Tuozzolo reportedly yelled “gun!” moments before the suspect opened fire, which investigators believe saved his fellow officers’ lives.
Tuozzolo’s former partner addressed the slain officer’s widow, Lisa, and two sons, ages 3 and 4, assuring them that although they lost a husband and father, they also gained a new support network.
“Your family has expanded enormously by about 35,000,” he said.