Newsday
Updated November 5, 2016 5:59 PM


Paul Tuozzolo, NYPD cop, killed by Manuel Rosales in Bronx, officials say

This story was reported by Matthew ChayesAnthony M. DeStefanoMaria AlvarezZachary R. DowdyNicole FullerDavid Olson,Víctor Manuel Ramos and Andrew Smith. It was written by Dowdy and Sarah Armaghan.

Manuel Rosales, right, of Brentwood, allegedly shot two NYPD officers, officials said on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, left, of Huntington, was killed in the shooting. Photo Credit: DPCI, SCPD

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A Brentwood man police say is responsible for killing an NYPD sergeant from Long Island Friday afternoon fired the first shot in what led to a total of 20 rounds spent at the Bronx scene where another officer was also shot, according to a preliminary assessment released by an NYPD official.

Manuel Rosales, 35, used a .45 caliber handgun to shoot Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, 41, in the head shortly before 3 p.m. at 1575 Bronx River Ave. as several officers closed in on him. Sgt. Emmanuel Kwo was shot in the leg in the exchange of gunfire, the official said.

Tuozzolo, a 19-year veteran from Huntington, was killed during the confrontation after officers responded to a report of a disturbance at the home of the gunman’s estranged wife, the official said.

Police on Saturday morning were still tracing the weapon Rosales used as the force investigation division conducts an analysis of the shooting scene, police said.

Kwo, 30, was released Friday night from Jacobi Medical Center, where Tuozzolo was pronounced dead after being taken off life support.

A steady stream of visitors filed in and out of Tuozzolo’s home in Huntington Saturday paying their respects, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini.

“This is devastating to all us of in Suffolk County and I just wanted to pay respects on behalf of my family,” Bellone said. “And everyone in Suffolk County’s hearts are broken for what’s happened here. This is a beautiful family and a hero officer serving our community so it’s devastating news.”

Bellone said the slain sergeant’s family was showing “incredible resiliency” as they mourn him.

Manuel Rosales, right, of Brentwood, allegedly shot two NYPD officers, officials said on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, left, of Huntington, was killed in the shooting. Photo Credit: DPCI, SCPD

“It’s hard to imagine somebody with young kids, it’s hard to imagine how you have the strength to deal with something like that,” said Bellone. “I think showing that incredible resiliency and clearly there’s a lot of support and love for this family.”

Sini said the Tuozzolo’s wife is showing “unbelievable strength.”

“As a husband and a father of three children, I don’t know how she is able to show such strength, it’s unbelievable,” Sini said. “It’s inspiring. To have to experience such a loss, and to be able to show composure, it’s just unbelievable.”

Sini said he and Bellone told the mourning family members that the Suffolk County Police Department and the county in general would be there for whatever they need.

“Times like this, it’s very important that law enforcement stick together and show some solidarity,” said Sini. “It’s a dangerous time for law enforcement every day when officers put their uniform on they risk their lives to serve and protect the residents, whether it’s NYPD, Suffolk County, Nassau County and law enforcement is a big family.”

Rosales’ relatives members gathered in the family home in Brentwood Saturday. They declined comment when approached by a reporter.

Rosales was shot and killed by police gunfire, including from a rookie still in training, said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. Rosales was pronounced dead at the scene. The official would not identify the rookie, considered a young “gray shirt” officer who is still in the academy and was in field training in the area of the 43rd Precinct at the time of the shooting, police said.

A somber funeral wake mood swept through the 43rd Precinct on Saturday as police officers paid their respects with flowers, candles and food for the grieving precinct’s officers and staff.

In a show of solidarity FDNY firefighters from Engine Company 96 next door delivered oven pans of home-cooked baked ziti. Neighbors and area restaurants sent food and brought flowers.

“This is my family. My heart is broken. I cried all night,” said Leonor Pacheco, 59, who lives next to the precinct.

Patrolmen's union chief Pat Lunch, right, and a delegation of Patrolmen's Benevolent Association officials stop at a makeshift memorial Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, to honor Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo who was fatally wounded in a shootout with a suspect in the Van Nest neighborhood. The memorial is outside the 43rd Precinct station house where Tuozzolo had worked for about a decade. Photo Credit: John Roca

Bringing a glass vase for flowers and lighting two candles, Pacheco said “the police protects us. They are affectionate and always courteous. The neighbors black or white — we are all in shock. This is a hard blow for the community.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday at a news conference announcing the death of Tuozzolo, a married father of two children younger than 5: “This city is in mourning, and the family of the NYPD is in mourning and particularly all the men and women of the 4-3 [Precinct] are in mourning right now over the loss of a very good man, a devoted man, the man who committed his life to protecting all of us.”

The mayor’s office said Friday night that all flags on New York City buildings would fly at half-staff until after Tuozzolo’s interment.

The sergeant’s is the fifth line-of-duty death in the NYPD since December 2014. It comes after a spate of shooting deaths of police nationally that include the ambush of two officers earlier this week in Des Moines.

Lynch, whose union represents the rank-and-file of NYPD officers, called Tuozzolo “a man of great courage” and all the officers who responded to that 911 call Friday “heroes, each and every one of them.”

Two NYPD officers greet each other in grief on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, outside the 43rd Precinct in the Soundview section of the Bronx. The station house lost Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, of Huntington, who died after being fatally wounded during a shootout with a domestic-violoence suspect in the Van Nest neighborhood. . Photo Credit: John Roca

“Let all of those who would demonize law enforcement officers across the country look to this hero who, for 19 years, routinely demonstrated the quiet courage of a man dedicated to protecting others and who made the ultimate sacrifice in that service,” Lynch said in a statement Saturday.

“All of those who responded to the tearful pleas of a woman who feared for her own life, sergeants and police officers, veterans and rookies alike, showed the kind of courage that is routine for New York’s Finest and, sadly, too often taken for granted . . . They are deserving of respect, appreciation and admiration. Now we must all straighten our shoulders as we look to the Tuozzolo family with love and support as they face the difficult task of saying goodbye and a future of perpetual loss.”

Tuozzolo’s death was the first fatal shooting of an NYPD officer since October 2015, when Det. Randolph Holder, 32, was fatally shot along the FDR Drive in Manhattan while pursuing a shooting suspect.

“I always talk about what a great job this is, but there’s nothing worse than a day like today,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said Friday at the hospital.

In a statement Friday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said: “Today, a sergeant in the New York City Police Department has made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” adding that “my deepest sympathies are with the families of the officers involved in today’s tragedy in the Bronx, and with Commissioner O’Neill and the NYPD as they cope with the loss of one of their own.”

Ed Mullins, president of the NYPD sergeants’ union who said he knew Tuozzolo, said: “What occurred here today was the result of police officers protecting a woman who was afraid of her own husband and, unfortunately, Sergeant Tuozzolo lost his life.”

Lynch said the 25-year-old rookie who fired on Rosales had been on the street in field training for just three days.

“His training kicked in,” Lynch said. “He saw a gun come out that window and rounds start being fired and fellow police officers, a sergeant, go down. He responded like a professional with 30 years, meanwhile he has three days. He did well.”

“Sgt. Tuozzolo is a resident of Huntington so he was a neighbor as well as a law enforcement brother,” said James Carver, Nassau County Police Benevolent Association president, in a statement. “The Nassau County PBA and its members can be counted on to do whatever they can to support the families of the two officers and the brother officers of the NYPD and especially the 43rd Precinct where Sgt. Tuozzolo was assigned for the past 10 years. It is a sad day for law enforcement.”

A vigil is scheduled for Tuozzolo on Saturday afternoon outside The Paramount, a concert hall in Huntington, according to the PBA and the Huntington Town Chamber of Commerce.

The NYPD said the shootout occurred after police received a 911 call about 2:45 p.m. from a woman who said that an armed man had broken into her home at 1460 Beach Ave. in the Van Nest section of the Bronx. A dispatcher told responding units that the man had left the home shortly after the incident was broadcast, and that he was driving a red Jeep, O’Neill said.

Living at the location were Rosales’ estranged wife, 29, and her two children, as well as a 50-year-old woman who made the 911 call, the NYPD said.

The NYPD said officers noticed a vehicle matching that description on Bronx River and Noble avenues near Noble Playground about 2:52 p.m. and approached the vehicle, at which time Rosales opened fire, striking Tuozzolo in the head and upper torso.

Kwo was shot in the leg several times.

Police on Saturday said Rosales has a total of 17 arrests on his criminal record dating to 1998 in Suffolk County.

Rosales’ latest arrest was on July 29 for criminal contempt of court, police said. Court records list an additional aggravated harassment charge in Suffolk’s domestic violence court. He posted $1,000 bail and was due back in court on Nov. 16.

Police said the previous arrests include one from January 2005 for obstructing governmental administration; an arrest on March 27, 2005, for having contraband in jail; on April 26, 2010, when he was arrested in a felony assault, which may have involved a police officer; January 2015 arrest for third-degree misdemeanor assault; a June 2015 arrest for criminal possession of stolen property; and a second arrest in June 2015 for criminal trespass. Dispositions for the arrests were not immediately available.

The charges arise out of an incident in which Rosales grabbed a woman’s hair and shook her head back and forth, according to a law enforcement source. This incident happened in July at the Rosales home on Shirley Street in Bohemia, the source said.

Records show Manuel Rosales has served time in prison upstate, most recently for a conviction of fourth-degree criminal contempt of stolen property.

In Brentwood, where police said Rosales was living, a man who identified himself as the suspect’s father said his son had gone astray early in his life.

“It looks like they killed my son,” said a man who said his name was Manuel Rosales. He added that he had tried to stop his son from misbehaving when he had brushes with the law as a teenager but that the criminal justice system was too lenient on him.

“Even when parents want to help the children, the system is in bad shape,” Rosales said. “When he was 16, a judge told me that he was emancipated and I couldn’t tell him what to do.”

The elder Rosales said that his son likely went to the Bronx address to confront his estranged wife, with whom he was embroiled in a custody dispute over their 2-year-old child.

“She took their child to the Bronx and put an order of protection on him because she was using the child to fight him,” said Rosales, who owns a small construction company. “When he came to a Halloween party here that we had with costumes, my children came with the grandchildren and the only child missing was his and when he left I knew he was feeling sad.”

Rosales didn’t specify what incidents his son had been involved in, but he lamented his untimely death.

“In the last few years he had changed a lot, straightened out his life” when he married, the elder Rosales said, adding that his son had problems “over the child.”

In another section of Long Island, four Suffolk police cars were parked in front of and near Tuozzolo’s three-story, cream-colored home on a quiet street in Huntington.

A family member of a neighbor said an NYPD helicopter had landed nearby earlier. Three SUVs were parked in the driveway of the house, which was dark except for an outdoor light.

Hours after the shooting, the Van Nest neighborhood where it occurred was teeming with cops. Scores of officers canvassed the area with detectives knocking on doors and uniformed cops conducting a line search for evidence.

Shakira Hatim, who lives on Bronx River Avenue where the shooting occurred, returned to her home Friday night in tears.

“The police officer got shot, it’s very upsetting,” she said, crying. “The officers protect us.”

She learned about the shooting when she came home from work to find her street blocked and a flood of officers. She planned to spend the night elsewhere.

“It’s so upsetting,” said Hatim, 47, a child care worker. “This is sad — right in front of my house.”

Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. said Friday, “This heartbreaking incident puts into clear focus both the difficulties our police officers face every day and the true scourge of guns and gun violence faced by our police, our communities and our nation.”

Sini said it’s dangerous time for law enforcement, citing the recent killings of officers in cities like Dallas and Des Moines, Iowa, and says officers need verbal support from the community -- as well as technology and other tools from the department.

“This was a domestic incident, it wasn’t an ambush-type of situation, although we are seeing the ambush-style murders across the country, so having more Emergency Service officers on the road at any given time, issuing more Tasers to officers, more training, more rifles on the street, things like that I think are very important and it’s very important that law enforcement officers know their department and their county is behind them.”

“It’s a very dangerous job,” Sini said. “You never know what you’re walking into, especially with domestics. Domestics are very dangerous. People are at their worst, they’re volatile. And you throw weapons in the mix. It’s a very dangerous situation. So it’s just a stark reminder how dangerous the job is and it should motivate all of us in this time of tragedy to make sure we’re doing everything we can to support our police officers.”

SNAPSHOT BIOS

Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, 41, a patrol sergeant in the 43rd Precinct, joined the NYPD in December 1997. He had previous assignments in the 25th, 26th and 28th precincts, all in Manhattan. He lived in Huntington.

Sgt. Emmanuel Kwo, 30, joined the NYPD in 1997. He has served in the 28th, 25th, and 26th precincts. He became a sergeant in 2006, the same year he joined the 43rd. He lives in Manhattan.

DEATHS SINCE LATE 2014

The fatal shooting of Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo is the fifth line-of-duty death in the NYPD since December 2014. It comes after a spate of shooting deaths of police nationally that include the ambush of two officers earlier this week in Des Moines.

  • In 2014, Wenjian Liu, 32 and Rafael Ramos, 40, were gunned down by Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley, 28, as they sat in a patrol car in Brooklyn on Dec. 20. Brinsley fled to the subway, where he killed himself.
  • Six months later, Brian Moore, 25, of Plainedge, was killed after he was shot in the head during a street stop in Queens Village.
  • In October 2015, Randolph Holder, 32, was fatally shot along the FDR Drive in Manhattan while pursuing a shooting suspect.

Criminal cases against suspects in the Moore and Holder killings are pending.

Moore, Liu, Ramos and Holder were all posthumously promoted to detective.