Slain NYPD officer was a 'beautiful cop'

NYPD officers probe the scene where longtime NYPD Officer Peter Figoski, 47, of West Babylon, was fatally shot while responding to a reported robbery in Brooklyn. Videojournalists: Howard Schnapp and Ed Betz (Dec. 12, 2011)

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When Officer Glenn Estrada nabbed the gunman who allegedly fatally shot partner Peter Figoski early Monday, Estrada was not only helping a fellow brother in blue -- he was coming to his neighbor's aid.

The duo, veteran officers who patrolled Brooklyn's streets out of the 75th Precinct in East New York, had shared a patrol car and workplace as partners for three years and went home to the same West Babylon community at the end of their shifts.

The people who live on the urban streets where the two men worked -- and the suburban Long Island byways where they raised children -- praised them for dedication to work and family. They spoke hours after the death of Figoski, 47, a father of four who was shot in the face when the two cops rushed to back up other officers at the scene of a robbery on Pine Street.

"He wasn't aggressive. He was polite. He was a beautiful cop. . . . When I saw this on TV, I started crying," said Carlos Rosa, 52, an avid cyclist who looked forward to slowing his bike down to chat with Figoski over the 20 years the two had known each other.

Rosa, who lives on Atlantic Avenue in the 75th Precinct, said he wept not only because he will miss Figoski's crime-fighting skills, but also because he had lost a friend.

Meanwhile, Estrada's friends said they were not surprised he had risked his life to help his partner.

Estrada, who had been struggling with another suspect when Figoski was shot, released the suspect and chased the trigger man, identified by police as Lamont Pride, 27, of Brooklyn, for blocks before collaring him.

A 9-mm Ruger pistol was found nearby under a parked car.

The gun had jammed.

Dina Bellucci, 52, a teacher who lives near Estrada, said it didn't surprise her that Estrada is being hailed as a hero.

Bellucci described him as a calm, loving father who spends hours playing with his three sons in the front yard.

"He's always calm and level headed," Bellucci said. "He doesn't talk too much. Just quiet and humble."

Figoski's neighbors said he will be missed.

"He was a great guy," Aditya Ramanathan, 22, said. "He was the kind of guy who would do anything [to help someone]."

Outside the Estrada home Monday, Richard and Kathy Waszmer, who identified themselves as the officer's in-laws, waited for their grandson to arrive on a school bus.

Richard Waszmer, who retired from the Nassau County Police Department in 1988, said he could imagine what Estrada is going through.

"When we worked with somebody for a while, it's like family away from family," he said. "I can't speak for him, but I know it would devastate me. Any time a cop gets killed.

"The only thing I'm happy about is the gun jammed," he said, which prevented Estrada and anyone else from being shot.

Waszmer said their daughter, Kathy, and Estrada have been married 14 years and that the couple have three children, ages 13, 11 and 4.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement that he met with Figoski's parents, Mary Ann and Frank; his brothers, Jimmy and Robert, a retired NYPD officer; his four daughters, Christine, 20, Caitlyn, 18, Caroline, 16, and Corinne, 14; and ex-wife, Paulette.

"Four daughters," Bloomberg said. "I'm the father of two myself -- and having to tell kids of any age what happened to their father or mother is, without a doubt, the hardest thing any mayor ever has to do."

With Jennifer Barrios and Sheila Anne Feeney

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