NEW YORK – The city paid homage to the second of two auxiliary police officers killed in a Greenwich Village street shootout, with the department's Jewish chaplain reading from poet Walt Whitman and officials praising the 19-year-old victim for saving lives even as he died.
Bagpipes skirled and hundreds of uniformed police officers from around the region stood at attention outside a Brooklyn funeral home on Sunday, as the body of Eugene Marshalik was lifted into a hearse and the casket was covered with the NYPD's blue, green and white flag. "I hear America singing," said Rabbi Alvin Kass, quoting the opening line of a poem by Whitman.
"New York City has been crying a bitter and anguished lament because two such special young people have been taken from our midst," Kass continued.
Marshalik and his partner, Nicholas Todd Pekearo, 28, were killed on Wednesday in a confrontation with gunman David Garvin as he tried to escape after killing a bartender in a Greenwich Village restaurant. Other officers then killed Garvin.
Pekearo and Marshalik were members of the city's force of 4,500 part-time auxiliary officers, who provide an extra uniformed police presence but do not carry weapons.
Although neither of the volunteer patrolmen was armed, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly credited them with preventing further mayhem in the streets. "People are alive today because of the actions of Eugene and his partner," Kelly said outside the funeral home on Flatbush Avenue.
Kass recalled that Marshalik, who had ambitions to become a prosecutor, had emigrated with his family from Russia 14 years ago, and as a freshman at Stuyvesant High School had witnessed the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center a few blocks away.
"That was what probably motivated him to become a law enforcement officer. I know that event deeply impressed itself on Eugene's consciousness," Kass told the assemblage. "His days on earth were cruelly and abruptly terminated but his spirit will live on."
Eugene's younger brother, Max, recalled snowball fights and other activities with his older sibling. He said he had "looked up to my brother ever since I was born," and "he seemed to know everything."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg deplored the family's loss, saying "how terrible that they came to this country only to have their son killed by a bad person. Sadly, there are bad people, and we just have to make this world better."
Two department buglers played "Taps," and five police helicopters flew overhead, a repeat of the ceremony held the day before for Pekearo.