This story was reported by Matthew Chayes, Anthony M. DeStefano, Zachary R. Dowdy, Nicole Fuller, David Olson, Víctor Manuel Ramos and Andrew Smith. It was written by Dowdy.
An NYPD sergeant — a 19-year veteran from Huntington — was killed Friday by a Brentwood man who opened fire as officers responded to a report of a disturbance at the Bronx home of the gunman’s estranged wife, officials said.
Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, 41, was shot in the head shortly before 3 p.m. at 1575 Bronx River Ave. as he and several other officers closed in on Manuel Rosales, 35.
Rosales shot another officer, Sgt. Emmanuel Kwo, in the leg, officials said.
Kwo, 30, was listed in stable condition at Jacobi Medical Center, where Tuozzolo was pronounced dead after being taken off life support.
Rosales also was shot and killed by police gunfire, including by a new recruit who was still in training, officials said. Rosales was pronounced dead at the scene.
“This city is in mourning, and the family of the NYPD is in mourning and particularly all the men and women of the 4-3 [Precinct] are in mourning right now over the loss of a very good man, a devoted man, the man who committed his life to protecting all of us,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference announcing the death of Tuozzolo, a married father of two children younger than 5.
The sergeant is the fifth line-of-duty death suffered by the NYPD since December 2014. It comes amid a spate of shooting deaths of police, which includes the ambush of two officers earlier this week in Des Moines.
De Blasio appeared with NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill at the hospital about 6 p.m. Friday night to announce details of the first fatal shooting of an NYPD officer since the October 2015 shooting death of Randolph Holder, 32, who was killed along the FDR Drive in Manhattan while pursuing a shooting suspect.
“It is with great anguish that I have to tell you today that an NYPD sergeant was shot and killed while doing his job, while trying to keep the people of this great city safe,” O’Neill said before describing the events that led up to the shooting.
“I always talk about what a great job this is, but there’s nothing worse than a day like today,” O’Neill said.
In a statement, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said: “Today, a sergeant in the New York City Police Department has made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” adding that “my deepest sympathies are with the families of the officers involved in today’s tragedy in the Bronx, and with Commissioner O’Neill and the NYPD as they cope with the loss of one of their own.”
Ed Mullins, president of the NYPD sergeants’ union who also knew Tuozzolo, said: “What occurred here today was the result of police officers protecting a woman who was afraid of her own husband and, unfortunately, Sergeant Tuozzolo lost his life.”
Patrick Lynch, president of the rank-and-file union of NYPD officers, said the 25-year-old rookie who fired on Rosales had been on the street in field training for just three days.
“His training kicked in,” Lynch said. “He saw a gun come out that window and rounds start being fired and fellow police officers, a sergeant, go down. He responded like a professional with 30 years, meanwhile he has three days. He did well.”
“Sgt. Tuozzolo is a resident of Huntington so he was a neighbor as well as a law enforcement brother,” said James Carver, Nassau County Police Benevolent Association president, in a statement. “The Nassau County PBA and its members can be counted on to do whatever they can to support the families of the two officers and the brother officers of the NYPD and especially the 43rd Precinct where Sgt. Tuozzolo was assigned for the last 10-years. It is a sad day for law enforcement.”
The NYPD said the drama unfolded when police received a 911 call about 2:45 p.m. from a woman who said that an armed man had broken into her home at 1460 Beach Ave. in the Van Nest section of the Bronx. A dispatcher told responding units that the man had left the home shortly after the incident was broadcast, and that he was driving a red Jeep, O’Neill said.
Living at the location were Rosales’ estranged 29-year-old wife and her two children, as well as a 50-year-old woman who made the 911 call, the NYPD said.
The NYPD said officers noticed a vehicle matching that description on Bronx River and Noble avenues near Noble Playground about 2:52 p.m. and approached the vehicle, at which time Rosales opened fire and struck Tuozzolo in the head and upper torso.
Kwo was shot in the leg several times.
“A preliminary review of the suspect’s history reveals 17 prior arrests within Suffolk County, New York, where we believe he has been living,” O’Neill said.
Court records list a 35-year-old Manuel Rosales with aggravated harassment and second-degree criminal contempt of court in Suffolk’s domestic violence court. He was due in court on Nov. 16.
The charges arise out of an incident in which Rosales grabbed a woman’s hair and shook her head back and forth, according to a law enforcement source. This incident happened in July at the Rosales home on Shirley Street in Bohemia, the source said.
Records show Manuel Rosales has served time in prison upstate, most recently for a conviction of fourth-degree criminal contempt of stolen property.
In Brentwood, where police said Rosales was living, a man who identified himself as the suspect’s father said his son had gone astray early in his life.
“It looks like they killed my son,” said a man who said his name was Manuel Rosales. He added that he had tried to stop his son from misbehaving when he had brushes with the law as a teenager but that the criminal justice system was too lenient on him.
“Even when parents want to help the children, the system is in bad shape,” Rosales said. “When he was 16, a judge told me that he was emancipated and I couldn’t tell him what to do.”
The elder Rosales said that his son likely went to the Bronx address to confront his estranged wife, with whom he was embroiled in a custody dispute over their 2-year-old child.
“She took their child to the Bronx and put an order of protection on him because she was using the child to fight him,” said Rosales, who owns a small construction company. “When he came to a Halloween party here that we had with costumes, my children came with the grandchildren and the only child missing was his and when he left I knew he was feeling sad.”
Rosales didn’t specify what incidents his son had been involved in, but he lamented his untimely death.
“In the last few years he had changed a lot, straightened out his life” when he married, the elder Rosales said, adding that his son had problems “over the child.”
On another section of Long Island, four Suffolk police cars were parked in front of and near Tuozzolo’s three-story, cream-colored home on a quiet street in Huntington.
A family member of a neighbor said an NYPD helicopter had landed nearby earlier. Three SUVs were parked in the driveway of the house, which was dark except for an outdoor light.
Hours after the shooting, the Van Nest neighborhood where it occurred was teeming with cops. Scores of officers canvassed the area with detectives knocking on doors and uniformed cops conducting a line search for evidence.
Shakira Hatim, who lives on Bronx River Avenue where the shooting occurred, returned to her home Friday night in tears.
“The police officer got shot, it’s very upsetting,” she said, crying. “The officers protect us.”
She learned about the shooting when she came home from work to find her street blocked and a flood of officers. She planned to spend the night elsewhere.
“It’s so upsetting,” said Hatim, 47, a child care worker. “This is sad — right in front of my house.”
In 2014, Wenjian Liu, 32 and Rafael Ramos, 40, were gunned down by Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley, 28, as they sat in a patrol car in Brooklyn on Dec. 20. Brinsley fled to the subway, where he committed suicide.
Six months later, Brian Moore, 25, of Plainedge was killed after he was shot in the head during a street stop in Queens Village. In October 2015, Holder was gunned down. Criminal cases against suspects in the Moore and Holder killings are pending.
Moore, Liu, Ramos and Holder were all posthumously promoted to detective.
“This heartbreaking incident puts into clear focus both the difficulties our police officers face every day and the true scourge of guns and gun violence faced by our police, our communities and our nation,” Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. said Friday after the death of Tuozzolo.
The mayor’s office announced Friday night that all flags on New York City buildings would fly at half-staff until Tuozzolo’s interment.