Wall Street Journal

Nov. 10, 2016 8:40 p.m.


Thousands Pay Their Respects to NYPD Sergeant Killed in Shootout

Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo was remembered as ‘a hero’ and someone who always put others first

By ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS

Lisa Tuozzolo accompanied the casket of her slain husband, New York Police Department Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, outside St. Rose of Lima Church in Massapequa, N.Y. PHOTO: SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

MASSAPEQUA, N. Y.—The New York Police Department sergeant killed in the Bronx last week was remembered Thursday as someone who protected strangers as if they were his sons.

Thousands of law-enforcement officials filled the street outside of St. Rose of Lima Church for the funeral of Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, the fifth NYPD officer killed in the line of duty in the past two years.

“The murder of a police officer is not a solitary event,” said Police Commissioner James O’Neill, who gave his first eulogy as head of the department. “It is a direct assault upon society as a whole.”

Mr. O’Neill became emotional as he described a career that came to a tragic end last Friday when Sgt. Tuozzolo responded to a call of a home invasion and encountered a gunman. During the shootout, the sergeant was shot in the head and later died.

Sgt. Tuozzolo, who was 41 years old, is survived by wife Lisa and sons Austin and Joseph.

Friends and family outside the church.  PHOTO:SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

“Paul always put others, especially his family, before himself,” the commissioner said. “We can only assume that impulse, so ingrained in his character, was guiding him last Friday afternoon.”

Mr. O’Neill also promoted Sgt. Tuozzolo, a 19-year veteran, to sergeant special assignment.

Also attending the service were Mayor Bill de Blasio, Cardinal Timothy Dolan and former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.

“I know you will remember your dad as a hero,” Mr. de Blasio said to Sgt. Tuozzolo’s 3- and 4-year-old sons. “Years from now, when you grow up, that will give you comfort. There will be good times and there will be bad times but you will know your father was someone you will look up to.”

Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants’ Benevolent Association, relayed a message from Sgt. Emmanuel Kwo, 30, who was shot in the leg during the gunbattle.

Sgt. Tuozzolo was the first person to encounter the gunman, and when he did he turned to Sgt. Kwo and other officers and shouted, “ ‘Gun! Gun! Gun!’ ” Mr. Mullins said.

Outside the church, uniformed police officers accompanied by their families listened to the service through speakers.

Children held miniature U.S. flags; others in the crowd hoisted signs that said “God Bless the NYPD.”

NYPD Officer John McGhee said Sgt. Tuozzolo’s family had grown. “Once you put that uniform on, the sea of blue stretches all across the world,” he said.

The law-enforcement members outside marched at the beginning and end of the service. When they stood at attention, officers stood still in rows that stretched almost a mile through the neighborhood.

Law-enforcement officials lined up for the funeral of Sgt. Tuozzolo. PHOTO: KEVIN HAGEN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Write to Zolan Kanno-Youngs at Zolan.Kanno-Youngs@wsj.com