Officer Pekearo's wake held Friday; Officer Marshalik honored Sunday
By SAMANTHA GROSS The Associated Press
NEW YORK -- As the men and women in dark blue uniforms arrived in groups to honor a fallen colleague, it was hard to distinguish the volunteers from the full-timers.
Lola Latman, right, the mother of slain New York City auxiliary officer Nicholas Todd Pekearo, is embraced by New York City Police Department Deputy Inspector Theresa Shortell, left, the commanding officer of the Sixth Precinct in the Greenwich Village section of New York, Saturday. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)
They have been united in mourning for Auxiliary Officers Nicholas Todd Pekearo and Eugene Marshalik, shot and killed by a gunman on a rampage as they patrolled the streets of Manhattan's Greenwich Village.
Mourners gathered for Pekearo's wake Friday at a Chelsea funeral home, just blocks from the high school the 28-year-old aspiring writer had attended. Remembrances were to continue through the weekend, with a funeral for Pekearo planned Saturday and a service for Marshalik Sunday.
"He was one of the nicest New Yorkers I've ever met," high school classmate Hannah Waldron said of Pekearo on Friday. "He had a sense of humor and a kindness about him."
"I can't even imagine what his mom is going through. ... She shouldn't have to go through this."
Police vehicles lined the street, and officers stood solemnly in formation nearby. Two blue-uniformed men hugged each other silently.
Indoors, family members stood surrounded by sprays of flowers as loved ones and scores of uniformed police _ many wearing the pointed shields given to volunteer auxiliary officers _ filed through to pay their respects.
Pekearo and Marshalik, a 19-year-old college sophomore who hoped one day to become a city prosecutor, were the first auxiliary officers to die in the line of duty since 1993. Only five other auxiliary officers have died on the job in the city's history, officials said.
New York City police officers carry the coffin of auxiliary officer Eugene Marshalik out of a funeral home, Sunday, in Brooklyn. Marshalik, 19,was a college sophomore weeks away from his 20th birthday, when he will killed by a gunman Wednesday night in Greenwich Village.(AP Photo/Shiho Fukada)
The men were killed, as was 35-year-old pizzeria bartender Alfredo Romero, when gunman David Garvin carved a bloody path through several blocks of Greenwich Village before he was fatally shot by police.
The volunteer officers were not required to respond to emergency calls, but both pursued Garvin in an attempt to help. Officials credited them with ordering Garvin to drop a bag containing a gun and ammunition, thus preventing further bloodshed.
Police said the shooter had been repeatedly kicked out of the restaurant where the shooting began and may have been angry that a friend was fired from the pizzeria.
Crawford Doyle Booksellers, the Upper East Side bookstore where Pekearo worked, shuttered its doors for Friday evening and Saturday so workers could attend his wake and funeral.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg was to speak at the Saturday morning service for Pekearo and Marshalik's funeral Sunday, and both men were to receive full police honors.
On Friday, the mayor announced the city was looking for ways to compensate the families of the men, who are not entitled to line-of-duty death benefits because they were volunteers. Both men's families were to receive the $66,000 City Award for Heroic Acts by Non-Peace Officers.
Bloomberg's administration also planned to help the families apply for a federal public safety officers benefit program that provides a payment of nearly $300,000. State workers compensation could add another $50,000.
Bloomberg, speaking on his radio show Friday, said he was saddened by having to talk about money because "it doesn't bring back their lives."
Auxiliary police officers are not provided bulletproof vests, but many buy their own and wear them on patrol. Pekearo was wearing a bulletproof vest, but only one of the several shots that struck him hit the vest, police said.
Since the rampage, some have questioned whether it is safe for the city's 4,500 auxiliary officers to dress like full-time police, but to be unarmed. Bloomberg said Friday that the similar uniforms serve an important purpose.
"The idea is that they look like police officers, which will give us more presence on the streets and make the city safer," he said.
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Associated Press Writer Sara Kugler contributed to this report.