Nassau County police officials praised four quick-thinking officers for preventing an apparently suicidal man from jumping off a second-floor deck Monday at a Garden City shopping center.
“They did a great job and because of the work they did they saved a life,” Acting Commissioner Patrick Ryder said during a news conference at Nassau police headquarters in Mineola.
Ryder said the four officers from the department’s Third Precinct received a call at 10:21 a.m. about a distraught man threatening to jump from a 28-foot high platform at The Gallery at Westbury Plaza.
Officers Edward Hoctor and Michael O’Brien kept the man engaged from the ground level while Officers Michael Vergano and Steven Liguori responded to the second story, according to police officials. The mall was busier than usual with holiday shoppers but Hoctor and O’Brien were able to keep them away from the scene.
In a video of the incident, Vergano can be seen placing his hands on a concrete wall as he approached the man, who was standing on the outside edge of the deck and clutching a second-story railing.
The cop said he was trying to put the man at ease.
“We just tried to keep him calm,” Vergano said. “I asked him what his name was, where he lived, just trying to get him to focus on me so Officer Liguori could continue to move into a position where he could grab him.”
The man let go of the railing but Vergano and Liguori were able to grab him and pull him to safety.
“Decisions that had to be made in a split second saved that man’s life,” Ryder said. “Great job by all four officers.”
Police did not identify the man who was rescued. Ryder said he could not comment on why the man may have wanted to hurt or kill himself.
Ryder said there have been 52 suicides or attempted suicides in Nassau County in 2017, down from 81 in 2016. People often become despondent during the holiday season, he said, and he urged anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts to call the Nassau County Behavioral Health help line at 516-227-8255.