Hundreds of mourners paid tribute to slain NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, killed last week by a gunman in the Bronx, at his wake in Bethpage on Wednesday.
Many came from Bayville, where Tuozzolo grew up and where blue ribbons now line the roads. Others were politicians and leaders in law enforcement, lamenting an increasing spate of violence against police officers. Some came from out of state.
Tuozzolo, 41, of Greenlawn, a 19-year NYPD veteran, was fatally shot in the head Friday afternoon by Manuel Rosales, 35, of Brentwood, police said. Rosales was later killed by police during an exchange of gunfire.
Police officers wearing helmets, protective vests, and holding heavy weaponry, along with bomb-sniffing dogs, guarded the Fredrick J. Chapey & Sons Funeral Home in Bethpage, where the wake took place.
“Our whole town is turned upside down,” said Harry Carter, 43, a teacher from Bayville who grew up with Tuozzolo and his brothers. He remembered Paul Tuozzolo’s love of fishing and fixing cars. “It’s ridiculous how much sorrow people in our town have.”
Visitors included Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford); NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill; O’Neill’s predecessor, William Bratton; Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano; and top brass from the Nassau County Police Department.
Hundreds of officers attended an evening wake, as did New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who entered the funeral home about 7:15 p.m. and left some 20 minutes later.
King said the shooting “should be a reminder of how tough a cop’s job is.”
“People should be very reluctant to second-guess a cop when he has to use deadly force,” he said, noting that it “shows the constant danger cops are under.”
He said that while cop shootings across the country are too frequent, “all too often, cops are being criticized.”
Nassau police Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki, who also attended the wake, said, “every day” police are “willing to make these sacrifices for public safety.”
He offered the department’s support to the grieving NYPD community. “We will be here as a unified force to make sure the family and police get through this,” he said.
He noted this was the second time in “recent history” that mourners were gathering for a fallen cop at the funeral home, referring to NYPD Officer Brian Moore, 25, of Massapequa, who was shot and killed in May 2015 in Queens.
A funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Rose of Lima Church, 2 Bayview Ave. in Massapequa, according to the funeral home’s website. Interment will be private, the website said.
The Massapequa school district is closing schools Thursday because of the road closures and expected traffic, the district’s website said.
A friend of the family, Jeannette Whitehead, 64, of Manhasset, said “it’s incredible when you see this many people come out.”
Leslie Williams, a condolence correspondent for the South Carolina Sheriffs Association, based in Columbia, South Carolina, offered support from his out-of-state colleagues.
“We honor all officers,” Williams said. “We respect all fallen officers all over this country.”