August 4, 2005

City Police Officer Is Killed in Iraq

Special to the Sun

A New York City police officer serving with his Army Reserve unit in Iraq was killed by a sniper, the Department of Defense announced yesterday.

James McNaughton, 27, a staff sergeant in a military-police unit, is the first city police officer killed in the war in Iraq, according to the Police Department. A city firefighter, Christian Engeldrum, was killed last year while serving with the Army National Guard in Iraq.

McNaughton was guarding prisoners from a tower at Camp Victory near Baghdad International Airport when he was struck once by sniper fire, the chief Police Department spokesman, Paul Browne, said.

A Middle Village resident who came from a family of police officers, Mc-Naughton was assigned to Transit District 2 in TriBeCa, which covers subway stations primarily in the downtown area.

His father, William McNaughton, is a recently retired officer with the Transit Police. His stepmother, Michelle McNaughton, works in the transit bureau, and his fiancee, Liliana Paredes, is an officer in the 9th Precinct, Mr. Browne said. The McNaughtons live in Centereach, Long Island.

Two black-and-purple, half-moon shaped flags were draped yesterday outside the entrance to the underground police station where McBaughton worked, near the corner of Lispenard Street and West Broadway.

Another flag was hanging over the door to police headquarters at One Police Plaza.

Transit officers looked pained as they walked in and out of the station underneath the grim reminder of their fellow officer's death. McNaughton, who worked the midnight shift policing the subways and stations, was known at District 2 for his dedication to protecting his country, friends said.

Last November he volunteered for a second tour of duty in Iraq after serving a previous tour at the start of the war.

"It doesn't surprise any of us that he wanted to go there to protect our way of life," a fellow officer, Brian Kenny, said. Officer Kenny said the men and women who worked at Transit District 2 were "absolutely devastated" when they learned Tuesday night of McNaughton's death.

"I just remember his smile. He was quiet, happy, and funny," Officer Kenny said.

Officer Kenny said McNaughton's sudden death brought back memories of September 11, 2001, for the officers who worked with him. During the attacks, officers from the precinct were among the first people on hand to deal with the casualties at the World Trade Center site. Several officers died when the towers fell.

"It's dangerous out there," he said. "People are losing their lives."

City officials praised McNaughton's dedication to defending his country.

"James McNaughton made our city safe as a police officer and gave his life defending our country," Mayor Bloomberg said. He said that because of legislation signed by Governor Pataki this year, McNaughton's family would receive the same benefits as those families of officers who die in the line of duty on the streets of New York.

"As the first New York City police officer to be killed in action in Iraq, he embodied the motto of the NYPD: fidelis ad mortem, faithful until death," the police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, said. "Officer McNaughton's service to the Police Department was in his blood. ... We will miss him and honor his memory always."

According to the Police Department, the military on active duty in Iraq includes 273 police officers. In all, 1,212 police officers serve in the military.

McNaughton had been with the Police Department since 2001 and was part of the first class of officers to graduate after the September 11 attacks. Colleagues said that while he was a dedicated police officer, he also considered himself a soldier. He was assigned to the 306th Military Police Battalion of the U.S. Army Reserve, with headquarters in Uniondale, Long Island.

A bartender at the Nancy Whiskey Pub, which is situated just outside the entrance to the subway station where Transit District 2 has its headquarters, said the officer's death has taken its toll on the police officers who work there.

"All I know is that it's shaken them up downstairs quite a bit," Melissa White, who has worked at Nancy's for five years, said.

A deli owner less than a block away from the station said the news of McNaughton's death was surprising and sad.

"Those guys have always protected us," Alex Mansour, who hails from Cairo and has owned Tribeca Park Gourmet Deli for 20 years, said. "They joke with us. We talk to them all the time. We are very sad to lose one."