He was one of Long Island's sons, and one of New York City's sworn protectors.

Now NYPD Officer Brian Moore is dead. Police say he was gunned down in the line of duty by a habitual criminal, Demetrius Blackwell.

Moore seemed destined to join the New York Police Department, growing up in Massapequa with a father, uncle and cousins on the city force. He was 25, living on the same street he grew up on, ensconced in the career he embarked on soon after graduating from Plainedge High School in 2007.

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After his shift Saturday, he had planned to watch the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao boxing match. Instead, he wound up in a hospital operating room.

The grief felt by his family, friends, neighbors, teachers and schoolmates, and the officers Moore served with, is nearly as heartbreaking as the death itself.

That grief spreads far beyond those who were so close to him.

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We are all touched and saddened by this loss. Moore's death comes at a time when the nation is questioning so much about how we police our communities and how police relate to community members. So it's difficult to divorce deaths like this from that issue. But it's worth trying to do so.

Blackwell, 10 years older than Moore, lives in Queens Village and is a married father of three. He was escorted out of an NYPD precinct house in 1998 after he yelled and was belligerent. He later served five years in prison for attempted murder.

From this description, Blackwell is the type of person we fear meeting on the street and the type of person we expect Moore and his fellow officers to protect us from. And he is among the many types of people Moore and other cops encounter when they go to work every day.

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On Saturday evening, police say, Blackwell had an illegal weapon. Moore and his partner, Erik Jansen, in civilian clothes and driving an unmarked car in Queens Village around 6:15 p.m., saw Blackwell tugging at his waistband, according to police. They thought he had a gun and asked him, "What are you carrying?"

Blackwell allegedly then started shooting, hitting Moore in the head, before fleeing. He was arrested about 90 minutes later in a home near the site of the shooting.

Brian Moore is the third NYPD cop killed by an assailant's bullets since late last year, the third NYPD cop killed since Ferguson started a national debate that Staten Island continued and Baltimore rekindled.

On Dec. 20, the NYPD's Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were assassinated in Brooklyn by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who traveled from Baltimore with the stated intention of killing cops.

Improving how police officers should treat the public is an issue we have to confront. But the dangers officers face, having signed up to serve and help others, must be confronted and acknowledged, too.

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Moore's death is an agonizing heartache and unbearable loss. He died protecting. He died beloved. And so he will be remembered.