|Updated November 5, 2016 11:06 PM|
This story was reported by Matthew Chayes, Anthony M. DeStefano, Maria Alvarez, Zachary R. Dowdy, Nicole Fuller, David Olson,Víctor Manuel Ramos and Andrew Smith. It was written by Dowdy and Sarah Armaghan.
An NYPD sergeant’s body came home to Long Island on Saturday, with police and firefighters saluting the 19-year veteran in Manhattan and giant American flags and police cruisers lining the Long Island Expressway.
A gunman on Friday fatally shot Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, a Greenlawn resident, firing the first shot in a volley of 20 total spent rounds as cops returned gunfire in the Bronx confrontation that also left another officer shot, according to a preliminary assessment from an NYPD official.
Manuel Rosales, 35, of Brentwood, used a .45 caliber handgun to shoot Tuozzolo, 41, in the head shortly before 3 p.m. on Bronx River Avenue as several officers — including a trainee cop — shot Rosales dead, the official said.
Sgt. Emmanuel Kwo, 30, who was shot in the leg in the exchange of gunfire, was released Friday night from Jacobi Medical Center, where Tuozzolo was pronounced dead Friday afternoon after being taken off life support, police said.
Police on Saturday were tracing the origin of Rosales’ weapon and conducting an analysis of the shooting scene, including an examination of surveillance video, the official said. Investigators are also trying to determine whether Kwo was struck by friendly fire, the official said.
Rosales, who has a total of 17 arrests dating back to 1998 in Suffolk County, has in the past claimed he was a member of the Latin Kings street gang, according to a source.
But none of his arrests were gang-related and there are no indications he was an active member of the gang at the time of the shooting, the source said.
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.
His previous arrests include a January 2005 charge of 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; a 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, according to records.
Dispositions for the arrests were not immediately available.
On Saturday, Town of Huntington Highway Department workers painted a blue line on Tuozzolo’s street in a tribute to him.
Suffolk police officers stood guard outside the Tuozzolo home in the hamlet of Greenlawn as a steady stream of visitors filed in and out to offer condolences, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Police Commissioner Timothy Sini.
His family remained inside most of the day and didn’t comment publicly.
“This is devastating to all of us 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.
“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,” Bellone said. “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, an administrator at West Islip High School, 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.”
The NYPD said the shootout occurred after police received a 911 call about 2:45 p.m. from a woman — Rosales’ estranged wife, 29 — 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, where she lived with her two children and another woman, shortly after the incident was broadcast, and that he was driving a red Jeep, police 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, who joined the NYPD in 2007, was shot in the leg several times.
The “gray shirt” trainee cop, who is still in the academy and was on patrol as part of field training, fired shots, but is not being identified.
It was somber inside the 43rd Precinct, where Tuozzolo and Kwo worked, as police officers paid their respects with flowers, candles and food for the grieving precinct’s officers and staff.
Patrick Lynch, president of the NYPD Police Benevolent Association, said the mood inside the precinct “is knee-buckling . . . The men and women who worked with Sgt. Tuozzolo inside loved him.”
Tuozzolo’s death was the first fatal shooting of an NYPD officer since October 2015, when Randolph Holder, 32, was shot along the FDR Drive in Manhattan while pursuing a shooting suspect.
In a show of solidarity, FDNY firefighters from Engine Company 96, next door to the 43rd Precinct, delivered oven pans of home-cooked baked ziti. Neighbors and nearby 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.
Bringing a glass vase for flowers and lighting two candles, Pacheco said “the police protect 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.”
Sini, who also attended a vigil for Tuozzolo on Saturday evening, said it’s dangerous time for law enforcement, citing the recent killings of officers in cities like Dallas and Des Moines and said officers need verbal support from the community — as well as technology and other tools from the department.
“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.”
The NYC Sergeants Benevolent Association set up a GoFundMe page — gofundme.com/SergeantTuozzolo — with the aim of raising $100,000 to be used for scholarships for Tuozzolo’s children.
“Please keep Sgts. Tuozzolo and Kwo and their loved ones and colleagues in your thoughts and prayers during this extremely challenging and heartbreaking time,” the post read.
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 Greenlawn.
Sgt. Emmanuel Kwo, 30, joined the NYPD in 2007. He lives in Manhattan.
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.
Criminal cases against suspects in the Moore and Holder killings are pending.
Moore, Liu, Ramos and Holder were all posthumously promoted to detective.