Thousands of mourners — including police from as far away as Boston — lined up Thursday in a cold drizzling rain outside a Monroe funeral home to pay their respects to Brian Mulkeen, the NYPD officer killed by friendly fire Sunday during a struggle with a suspect in the Bronx.
A massive American flag hung in the gray sky outside the Smith, Seaman & Quackenbush Funeral Home on a dreary and chilly afternoon. Dozens of smaller flags were planted along a road leading to the funeral home.
Hundreds of members of the NYPD were joined by officers from Ramapo, Monroe, Darien and Tuxedo — the department where Mulkeen began his law enforcement career.
Capt. Jeffrey Heilig, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Bronx Specialized Units and Mulkeen's boss, called Mulkeen "the best of the best" and a "gentle giant" with a big heart.
"When it was time to be on the street, to be the police, he was," Heilig said. "When it was time to be compassionate and have a heart, he did. This loss, it’s not just a loss for this department, the city or the state. It is a loss for the entire country.”
Mulkeen’s family arrived at the funeral home just before 1 p.m. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz arrived separately later in the afternoon.
The early visitation drew hundreds upon hundreds of mourners, the majority uniformed NYPD officers. Crowds of police officers lined up outside the funeral home under umbrellas and lingered late into the evening session.
Flags throughout Monroe remained at half staff and there are signs in businesses expressing sorrow for the death of Mulkeen, who lived in Yorktown Heights. Monroe-Woodbury schools will be closed Friday for Mulkeen's funeral.
Hipolito Benitez, a retired NYPD officer who lives nearby, offered water, doughnuts and coffee to mourners as they walked from a parking area to the funeral home.
“It’s the least I can do,” Benitez said. “Police officers don’t get enough support.”
Mulkeen, 33, was raised in Monroe and was class president at Monroe-Woodbury High School. He later obtained a degree in finance from Fordham University, where he was captain of the track and field team. Mulkeen worked briefly for Merrill Lynch before leaving the investment firm to follow his passion for law enforcement.
Mulkeen joined the NYPD six years ago and was a member of the Bronx's plainclothes Anti-Crime Unit.
He was shot twice Sunday by fellow officers after a man they had chased down appeared to be reaching for a gun, O’Neill said.
The suspect, identified as Antonio Williams, 27, ran from officers when they attempted to question him near the Edenwald Houses NYCHA complex, an area that has seen a recent uptick in gang activity and shootings, O’Neill said. Mulkeen died at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi in the Bronx.
The fallen officer displayed “incredible, incredible courage,” O'Neill had said, describing the officer's actions before his death.
NYPD officers shot and killed Williams as he attempted to grab Mulkeen’s weapon in the struggle, officials said.
Two bullets fired from the guns of his fellow officers struck Mulkeen, as he struggled on the ground with Williams, O’Neill told reporters at a news briefing. On Monday, the city medical examiner disclosed that Mulkeen suffered bullet wounds to the head and torso.
Mulkeen made about 270 arrests during his career — a large number of which involved taking illegal guns off the streets, authorities said.
It was the second time an NYPD officer had been killed by friendly fire this year. In February, NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen, 42, of Calverton, died after he was hit by friendly fire as he and other officers responded to a robbery in Queens.
A funeral Mass for Mulkeen is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at The Church of the Sacred Heart, 26 Still Rd., in Monroe.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to the Widows and Children’s Fund at the Police Benevolent Association.
With Robert Brodsky