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Updated: March 30, 2024, 10:39 AM

Funeral Saturday for fallen NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller in Massapequa

By Newsday Staff

Thousands of mourners are expected to honor slain NYPD Officer Jonathan E. Diller at a funeral service Saturday at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Massapequa.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Edward Caban are among those who will eulogize Diller, 31, of Massapequa Park, said the Rev. Michael Duffy, of the Cathedral of St. Agnes in Rockville Centre.

Duffy, who presided over the wedding of Diller and his widow, Stephanie, just a few years ago, will deliver the funeral’s homily, which will touch on the injustice of the loss of Diller, a three-year police department veteran and the father of a 1-year-old boy named Ryan.

“The city is mourning a cop, and the tens of thousands of police officers outside are mourning a brother in arms,” Duffy wrote in his homily, to be delivered Saturday. “But Stephanie and Ryan are mourning their everything.”

“Jon didn't need to make this sacrifice to prove how good and heroic he was to Stephanie and Ryan. They knew firsthand … Monday just proved it to the world,” the pastor wrote.

Massive crowds show support

By about 9:30 Saturday morning, a nearly mile-long stretch of Merrick Road began to fill with uniformed officers, a massive crowd moving toward the church for the 10:30 service. 

NYPD officers wore black bands around their badges, and blue ribbons were affixed to poles throughout the neighborhood — solemn symbols of the loss.

In the church parking lot, a truck outfitted with four screens displayed rotating photos of Diller: smiling as he cradled his newborn son in one and posing in an NYPD helicopter alongside family in another.

American flags lined the perimeter of the church. Just inside, a poster included photos of Diller during his time in the NYPD.

The wooden pews began to fill after 9 a.m. Some attendees bowed their heads in silent prayer as hymns were played over speakers. Some law enforcement officers embraced in the aisles.

Family and friends began filling one of the two middle sections of pews as the service neared.

Across the street from the church, a group of sixth-grade Massapequa girls lacrosse players wore school colors as they stood in support of Diller.

“We’re here to support the community and we’re here to support the cops,” said Juliana Ganci, 11, whose father is an FDNY firefighter.

Her mother, Mimma Ganci, added: “We stand together.” 

Another group of sixth-grade Massapequa boys lacrosse players wheeled a cart through the crowd, offering bottled waters and bagels to officers. 

On the rear window of an NYPD bus parked in the lot of the church read the handwritten words, “P.O. Diller E.O.W 3-25-24”

Sharpshooters observed the growing crowd above the Capri Cleaners and Gregorio’s Pizzeria. 

Nassau County police have announced road closures in the area to accommodate the expected crowds. 

Burial will follow at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale.

Police said Friday that Merrick Road will be closed in both directions from Hicksville Road to Park Boulevard between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Police said "heavier than usual traffic delays" should be expected on all surrounding roads, with intermittent closures likely to accommodate the procession.

The pastor at St. Rose, the Rev. Gerard Gentleman, said Friday that the funeral service will be different than a traditional funeral Mass because it takes place on Holy Saturday, one of the three days of the Sacred Triduum, which begins on the evening of Holy Thursday and is observed through Good Friday and Holy Saturday in anticipation of Easter Sunday.

Gentleman said the service will be shorter than a traditional Mass but will include a homily, prayers, a Scripture reading and eulogies.

Diller, a three-year NYPD veteran who was killed Monday night during a traffic stop in Far Rockaway, Queens, was assigned to the Queens South Community Response Team. He was fatally shot as he and his partner investigated a vehicle illegally parked in a bus lane.

The NYPD said the front-seat passenger, identified as Guy Rivera, 34, shot Diller in the torso, under his bullet-resistant vest. Rivera, who was shot by Diller's partner, was charged Thursday with first-degree intentional murder of a police officer, attempted murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

The driver, Lindy Jones, 41, was arraigned Wednesday on felony weapons charges.

Gentleman said Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen, representing Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the Archdiocese of New York; Bishop Robert Brennan of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens; and Bishop John Barres of the Diocese of Rockville Centre are expected to attend, as well. 

Dedicated, close-knit family

For the second consecutive day Friday, hundreds of police officers and other visitors, including elected officials and everyday Long Islanders, lined up at the Massapequa Funeral Home to pay respect to Diller’s family.

“The last five days have been a living nightmare for this family,” said Patrick Hendry, president of the NYPD Police Benevolent Association. “This is a close-knit family dedicated to service. There are police officers in their family. His wife, a nurse, is helping people every single day, just like this hero police officer, Jonathan Diller, did every single day.”

“As police officers, we know we have an incredibly difficult job. But there's nothing harder than losing one of our own,” Hendry said. “And there's nothing harder than seeing a family at the hospital in this week, devastated, and it's our job as police officers to be there for this family in any way possible. Our police officers across this city are heartbroken, and we're going to be there for this family every step of the way.”

Diller joined the NYPD in February 2021 and was assigned to the community response team in February 2024, working out of the 105th Precinct and later the 116th.

Bob Chavanne, who said he was the bugler at Long Island National Cemetery for 22 years, played patriotic melodies on his trumpet across the street from the funeral home Friday. Chavanne also played “Badge of Honor” and taps on his trumpet before the wake began and at times held an American flag.

“My heart and soul has been troubled and the spirit of God brought me here to do something special,” Chavanne said. “When I heard the news of the fallen officer, I was praying for his family. I wanted him to hear it at heaven’s gate that we’re here for his family and son. We know he’s a true hero and we’re all hurting in this country.”