NEW YORK – Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday that the families of two unarmed NYPD volunteers who died trying to stop a gunman are ineligible for police line-of-duty death benefits, but could qualify for more than $400,000 from other programs.
The city is looking for ways to compensate the families of Auxiliary Officers Eugene Marshalik and Nicholas Todd Pekearo, who the mayor said "were trying to protect you and me on a voluntary basis, getting no compensation for it, putting their time in."
"This was the great American dream for these two kids," he added.
Marshalik, a college sophomore weeks away from his 20th birthday, and Pekearo, 28, an aspiring writer, were killed along with 35-year-old pizzeria bartender Alfredo Romero when David Garvin went on a rampage Wednesday night in Greenwich Village. Police fatally shot Garvin.
One of the death benefits that will be granted to the families of the volunteer officers is the $66,000 City Award for Heroic Acts by Non-Peace Officers.
The Bloomberg administration will also help the families apply for a federal program that provides a payment of nearly $300,000 to survivors of public safety officers. The city will also assist with state workers compensation, a benefit of $50,000. Volunteer workers are eligible for both programs, officials said.
Speaking on his radio show Friday, Bloomberg also said the shootings highlight the need for tougher gun-control measures.
"The Democrats have said repeatedly that they blame the Republicans for gun legislation. Well, now they're in charge," he said. "OK, stand up."
Bloomberg is pushing Congress not to renew measures that prevent federal authorities from sharing gun trace data with local governments.
The mayor also addressed his critics, some of whom say he is going too far with his gun initiatives, such as suing out-of-state gun dealers.
"You look the parents in the eye and you tell them," he said.
On Friday, auxiliary and full-time officers mingled together in line to pay their respects at a wake for Pekearo. Outside, two blue-uniformed men hugged each other silently, while colleagues stood solemnly in formation near the Chelsea funeral home.
"He was one of the nicest New Yorkers I've ever met," Hannah Waldron said tearfully of her high school classmate. "He had a sense of humor and a kindness about him."
Pekearo was to be memorialized on Saturday in Manhattan, followed by Marshalik on Sunday in Brooklyn. Only five other auxiliary officers have died in the city's history, officials said.
The city's 4,500 auxiliary police officers are unarmed but have uniforms that resemble those of regular police officers.