Valley Stream residents Boris and Maya Marshalik say they still have a hard time coming to Manhattan's West Village. It is an all-too-vivid reminder that their son, Eugene Marshalik, and fellow auxiliary New York police officer Nicholas Pekearo were gunned down in the neighborhood two years ago while pursuing a heavily armed murder suspect.
So it was with mixed feelings that the couple traveled there yesterday morning for a ceremony in which the city renamed two corners at Bleecker and Sullivan streets for the slain men.
The corner is where the two, on the evening of March 14, 2007, began their pursuit of David Garvin, who was running away after fatally shooting a bartender in a pizzeria. Garvin shot the auxiliary officers and then was killed by police officers after a struggle.
Yesterday, two street signs - one honoring each man - were unveiled. The sign for Marshalik, who was 19 and lived in Valley Stream, is mounted at the southwest corner, and the one for Pekearo, who was 28 and lived in the West Village, is at the northeast corner.
"It means a lot that people are still remembering Eugene," Maya Marshalik said. "Maybe people will ask, 'Who was that boy and what did he do?'"
After the white plastic that covered the signs was ceremonially pulled off, Iola Latman, Pekearo's mother, crossed the intersection to embrace Boris and Maya Marshalik.
The mothers stood for several seconds, no longer holding back tears as they whispered to each other about the pain each feels each day.
"You know I am only a few blocks away. I am going to see this every day," Latman said, referring to the new signs.
While the two families' lives were forever changed by the men's deaths, they took some solace in the city honoring their sons' heroic service.
"I am glad that the police department and community recognize his bravery," Latman said. "It means a lot to us."
Beforehand, to the skirl of the bagpipes of the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, more than 150 regular and auxiliary officers in their dress uniforms and white gloves stood 10 abreast for the 25-minute ceremony in the parking lot of the 6th Precinct station house on West 10th Street.
The officers stood in honor of their fallen colleagues as Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) hailed Marshalik and Pekearo as heroes.
The commissioner unveiled two brass plaques that bore gold-plated, raised profiles of the officers. The plaques will hang on the precinct's "Wall of Honor" with those honoring four other officers killed in the line of duty since 1947. Each family was given a framed portrait of their son.
"They give us great examples, not only for auxiliary officers but for the whole police department," Kelly said. "It's an example of nobility, of service, of sacrifice that is an inspiration to all of us."