This story was reported by Anthony M. DeStefano, Alison Fox, Nicole Fuller, and Andrew Smith. It was written by Fuller.
The handgun used by a Brentwood man to shoot NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo twice in the head Friday in the Bronx, killing the 19-year veteran from Greenlawn, was reported stolen in 2011 in Suffolk, police said Monday.
It was unclear how Manuel Rosales, 35 — who police said fatally shot Tuozzolo, 41, and wounded NYPD Sgt. Emmanuel Kwo, 31, during an encounter just before 3 p.m., obtained the semi-automatic .45-caliber handgun. Rosales, arrested 17 times in Suffolk County — most recently for domestic violence — was shot and killed in a gun battle with cops who fired 23 shots in the exchange after responding to a disturbance call at the Bronx home of his estranged wife, Tia Rosales.
An autopsy revealed bullet wounds to the brain and skull killed Tuozzolo, a law enforcement official said. Funeral services for the married father of two young children are scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Rose of Lima Church in Massapequa.
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office responded Monday to assertions by Tia Rosales on social media that prosecutors ignored her phone calls about the domestic violence case and judges acted negligently in releasing him from custody.
“If anyone is truly to blame for this tragedy, I blame Suffolk County District court and the judge who let him walk out of there knowing he was in mental distress, knowing he needed immediate psychiatric care,” Tia Rosales wrote on Facebook. “Because of this GROSS negligence, two husbands and two fathers are lost.”
Rosales, who referred to herself as “grief stricken,” wrote that she was thinking of Tuozzolo’s wife and children. But her post also cast Rosales as the victim of abuse as a child that he couldn’t rise above, bringing “violence” into their marriage.
Tia Rosales could not be reached for comment Monday, and Manuel Rosales’ father declined an interview.
“Manny should never have been on the street in the condition he was in,” she wrote. “Suffolk County District Attorneys office was aware of his condition mentally when he was arraigned for his last arrest. Instead of taking proper measure, a gross negligence occurred and he was released. I attempted two separate phone calls to assistant district attorney Elizabeth Moran last week trying to understand what was happening with this case. I never received a call back.”
Robert Clifford, a spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota, disputed her assertions, saying in a statement that prosecutors returned her calls.
“In fact on Sept. 20, 2016 a phone call was made to Ms. Rosales at the number she provided to police, the number was out of service,” the statement said. “On Oct. 28, 2016, Ms. Rosales called the District Attorney’s Office twice. Both calls were promptly returned and messages left to call back. No further call back was received from Ms. Rosales.”
The statement also said prosecutors requested bail of $20,000 cash at Manuel Rosales’ July 30 arraignment on charges of aggravated harassment. District Court Judge Pierce Cohalan set bail at $2,000 cash or $4,000 bond, which Rosales posted.
The case then appeared three times in the county’s Domestic Violence court. At the last appearance, on Oct. 26, prosecutors asked to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor, a court spokesman said. His next appearance would have been Nov. 16.
Mary Porter, a spokeswoman for Suffolk courts, said in a statement:
“This is a tragedy for all families involved. The judge at arraignment considered all of the relevant factors and set bail consistent with the information he had at the time. . . . The purpose of bail is to ensure that a defendant appears in court at all of his or her future court appearances. Mr. Rosales appeared at all of his subsequent court dates.”
Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini declined to comment Monday on the court’s handling of the case, saying only that in Rosales’ last arrest “a judge made a determination to release this individual.”
Sini said the department is taking a “hard look” at its interactions with Rosales.
“The fact that he was arrested repeatedly in Suffolk County, I think speaks volumes about what the Suffolk County Police Department did to keep tabs on this individual and to be as active as possible,” said Sini. “But certainly we’re looking at all the encounters that we had with him and if there can be any lessons learned here.”