By MICHAEL HILL|
Associated Press Writer
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.- A state trooper who was shot during the hunt for one of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted fugitives was a "hero in the very truest sense of the word," Gov. George Pataki said at the lawman's funeral Monday.
Thousands of officers, some from as far away as Canada and Michigan, attended the funeral to remember Joseph Longobardo, one of three troopers Ralph "Bucky" Phillips is suspected of shooting while on the run.
Longobardo, 32, never regained consciousness after he and another trooper were wounded in an ambush Aug. 31 as they staked out the home of Phillips' former girlfriend. The other trooper remained in critical condition Monday.
At the funeral, on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, several speakers Longobardo in the company of emergency responders who died in the attacks.
"In the wake of 9/11, I think all of us are more aware of the grave dangers all our public servants experience every time they don their uniform," said Bishop Howard Hubbard. "We have come together to mourn the passing of another fallen hero who was also a victim of a terrorist attack."
Pataki, who just hours earlier stood at ground zero in New York City to mark the anniversary of the terror attacks, called Longobardo a "hero in the very truest sense of the word."
Phillips escaped April 2 from a jail in Erie County and eluded police for five months, stealing cars, breaking into homes and hiding out until his capture Friday.
Phillips has been charged with attempted murder in the June shooting of a state trooper, who survived. He has not been in Longobardo's death.