An NYPD cop from Flanders received one of Suffolk’s highest honors Wednesday for his quick action the day he shouted to his sergeant, “Boss, it is a bomb!”
At a Hauppauge ceremony, Officer Peter Cybulksi accepted the county’s Distinguished Medal of Service, presented by County Executive Steve Bellone, as Suffolk’s top cops lauded him and partner Sgt. Hameed Armani.
The two officers were in a police van in Times Square July 20 when someone driving by in a gold-colored SUV threw a package into Cybulski’s lap. To protect the crowds, Armani drove off to a less populated block before whatever it was detonated.
“That day was definitely the scariest moment of my entire life,” Cybulski, 24, said at the ceremony, adding “and a normal night in Times Square turned into one of the most dangerous life-saving missions that myself or my sergeant have ever been on.”
The package turned out to be a candle, a cylindrical object and some lighting components all wrapped in a white towel, NYPD brass had said. The SUV was spotted a few blocks away and its driver arrested.
But before the package was discovered to be a hoax, there were several tense hours as the specter of terrorism weighed on the NYPD. The SUV was spotted blocks away near Columbus Circle and police cordoned off the area as hostage negotiators spoke to the driver and robot X-rayed the vehicle to determine if bombs were inside. Eventually, the driver, a Queens man, was arrested.
Bonded by their experience, Cybulski and Armani were all smiles as they shook hands at the ceremony.
The medal is reserved for Suffolk residents so Armani, who lives in Queens, and is a 10-year NYPD veteran, was given a Suffolk County certificate of appreciation.
Bellone said Cybulski, a graduate of Riverhead High School and St. Johns University, joins an “elite” class.
“The series of events that transpired are a stark reminder that our officers and emergency services personnel are truly here to serve and protect us, no matter what,” Bellone said at the ceremony. “Officer Cybulski’s actions on July 20th, 2016 would have saved countless lives, and for that, I am eternally grateful for his work.”