At 11 a.m. this Thursday an almost endless row of officers of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) guarded the entrance to the Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, waiting for the remains of one of his companions who was shot to death less than a week ago in Harlem.
There, in the midst of a scene of frustration and pain, hundreds of uniformed, friends, family and residents of the Big Apple waited around the emblematic temple, to attend the wake of officer Jason Rivera, 22, a name that is already on the podium of the heroes and whose memory will always It will remove the wound of violence that affects the city.
Eight “men in blue” carried the casket up the steps, then the church bells rang as a motorcade with Rivera’s parents and wife arrived for a private ceremony, before the doors were opened to the public.
Like hundreds of New Yorkers who came to the 49th Street and Fifth Avenue, the Queens resident, Eleanor Arias, took his hour off while working in a nearby store, to approach the wake that began at 1:00 in the afternoon.
“I don’t know his family. I found out like most from the news. And since then I haven’t stopped thinking about this. Such a young boy who wanted to serve and left that way,” the Dominican immigrant shared excitedly, who at the same time wondered if New Yorkers have any hope of walk quietly through the streets again.
“I am the mother of a young man who is in the Navy. And that broke my soul . I believe that this painful event with these two boys, who were just beginning their lives, should make the authorities reflect on the direction the city is taking, where the policemen themselves are threatened”, limited the Quisqueyana.
Officer Rivera’s body will be resting until this Friday morning in a coffin, at the foot of the main altar of the New York cathedral, the same place that his partner Wilbert Mora will occupy next week.
Both uniformed men were shot last Friday when they responded to a domestic violence call. When they went to resolve the report made from 911, they were greeted by a hail of bullets. According to police confirmation were detonated by Lashawn McNeil, without even saying a word, who was also killed by a counteroffensive by a third officer.
“I wanted to protect New Yorkers”
Among the human swell of people who came to pay tribute to Rivera, was his cousin Hector Ferreira, who warns that he is still in an inexplicable labyrinth.
“My cousin was like a son to me. And he was the teacher of my two children. He loved teaching. And despite thousands of options, from a very young age he told us that he wanted to be a police officer to protect New Yorkers. He was talking about a career within the NYPD. Nothing made him feel more proud than his uniform,” said Ferreira.
With two officers killed while attending the same procedure, the books of the largest police force in the country will have a page underlined and titled with letters of pain in these weeks of the year that is just beginning. But that sadness is especially strong in the vibrant Dominican immigrant community in the Big Apple, which does not stop mourning one of its own.
“That hurts Dominicans”
Rivera, of Quisqueyan parents, had only been serving the NYPD for two years. He grew up in the Inwood neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, where the news of his death was like a high-intensity earthquake that stirred the emotions of residents in the heart of the city. Dominican immigration in New York.
Such was the case of Iris Gómez, a hospital worker, who, as if she were a very close relative, waited with tears in her eyes, seeinger pass his remains on Fifth Avenue.
“That has hurt us Dominicans a lot. That boy was beginning to live. But on the other hand, this should make us think about the public health crisis we are experiencing. See, the alleged killer was threatening her own mother, which is why she called the police. And look how it all ended,” Iris commented.
Indeed, Shirley Sourzes, the mother of the accused having mortally wounded Rivera and Mora, she called around 6:30 pm last Friday, from her apartment at 119 West 135th Street in Harlem, to report that her own son was threatening her.
“He had mental problems. If I had known this, I would never have called 911,” Sourzes insisted to local media.
“I just wanted to help”
In the long line of side access to the historic church, it was not difficult to hear anecdotes from those who were close to the deceased officer’s life. There, together with his whole family, Frank Peña was there, owner of a pharmacy where Rivera worked before joining the ranks of the Uniformed.
“They called me at 7:30 in the morning the day after this happened and I think I still have a hard time accepting it. He worked with me at the pharmacy before he went to the NYPD. And I can be a front row witness he just wanted to help others”shared the islander.
For his part, the Dominican consul Eligio Jáquez He was also present at the ceremony, emphasizing that he was attending on behalf of the government of his country.
“We have reiterated our condolences and delivered today the flag of the Dominican Republic to Mr. Daniel Rivera, father of the police officer killed in the line of duty. We stand by our community at this time when crime remains a global threat.“, he highlighted.
Uniformed components from other New York counties and other states also participated in the funeral that took place between 1 and 8 p.m.
The cash of the Philadelphia police officer, Jason Tavares, of Quisqueyan origin, was in the group of officers who came to offer their solidarity to the NYPD: “As an officer we know that our lives are always in danger. These are painful lessons that guide us, that should help us as public servants.”
New York Mayor Eric Adams arrived at the cathedral on Fifth Avenue around 4 p.m. to pay his respects, accompanied by the NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell and Democratic Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer.
Rivera’s funeral mass will take place this Friday at 9:00 pm, presided over by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
Uniformed prepares for Mora’s wake
The remains of the other uniformed officer, Wilbert Mora, who died last Tuesday after four days of fighting for his life, will be veiled on February 1 at the San Patricio Cathedral, as happened this Thursday with his partner Jason Rivera.
Mora, who was hit by a bullet in the head, in the same bloody event in which Rivera was attacked, donated his organs and, according to the New York Benevolent Association (PAB), “some lucky person has already obtained the heart of our hero”.
The union once asked New Yorkers to join them at Mora’s wake and funeral.
“Please come back to us and continue to be with us. Together, we will show that our heroes did not die in vain,” said PAB President Patrick Lynch.
“We can’t just be us. The streets can’t be full of New York City cops at this funeral. The public has to come. New Yorkers have to send a message to anyone who dares to harm an officer.”
Coincidences: 50 years ago the NYPD was also in mourning
Exactly 50 years ago, the NYPD was also in mourning. On January 27, 1972, the agents Gregory Foster and Rocco Laurie they were killed while on duty by members of the Black Liberation Army, an underground group that existed from approximately 1970 to 1981.
The murders occurred around 10:50 p.m. on that fateful night while African-American Foster, 22, and Laurie, 23, were on duty. They had finished investigating a nearby domestic dispute report and were walking down the street. 11th Street to Avenue B, in Lower Manhattan when they noticed a car double parked.
Patrolmen checked a nearby restaurant to see if anyone knew whose car it was, and when no one did, they went back outside. They walked past a group of men, who then turned around and began shooting at the officers, who They received several shots in the back.
The men then took the officers’ weapons and shot them again.
Foster received eight shots and six bullet wounds. Both officers were former marines and Vietnam veterans.