NEW YORK CITY – Fallen New York City Police officer Jason Rivera, one of two killed earlier this month in the line of duty, was honored Thursday morning with an inter-borough procession that culminated with other cops lining the streets surrounding the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where loved ones and supporters gathered to say their final farewells.
Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue was a sea of blue on Thursday as the hearse carrying the remains of Rivera, 22, pulled up in front of uniformed officers saluting the dead NYPD hero. The vehicle was escorted by police on its way to the historic cathedral from a funeral home in Riverdale in the Bronx, and passed stopped traffic in all directions along the way.
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Bagpipes sounded as the officer’s coffin was carried into the cathedral, where visitation began at 1 p.m. They ended seven hours later. A funeral was scheduled at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Friday morning.
About 4,000 people, many of them police but also civilians, turned out in the first two hours. They braved sub-zero temperatures on a clear January day in New York City.
Some fellow officers wore uniforms showing they had traveled from overseas. Many came from neighboring states on the East Coast. Officers from surrounding suburbs handed out food and coffee, and parts of 50th and 51st Streets were closed. Mounted units and officers in tactical gear watched the perimeter.
Veterans, firefighters, paramedics and many other mourners attended.
A passerby leaned over the police barricade to say to officers waiting in line: “Thank you for your service. Thank you for your duty officers. You can’t hear it enough.”
In front of the cathedral’s main entrance, which police had cordoned off for the hearse and family, a lone protester held a sign that read, “Stop the violence in New York and Honduras.”
“In my country they kill people for nothing,” she said. “Now in New York? It’s too much.
After about an hour and 40 minutes of queuing, at the entrance to the church, the civilians were directed to a quick security check, where counter-terrorism officers scanned them before letting them in. Rivera’s family occupied the first 10 to 15 rows of pews, weeping in solidarity as thousands paused on the steps of his casket, waving, praying or paying their respects at the open casket.
Rivera and Wilbert Mora, 27, were shot Friday night while responding to a report of a domestic violence incident in Harlem involving a mother and her adult son, Lashawn McNeil.
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Along with a third officer, the pair met the woman and began to approach the back bedroom, where they were told McNeil was staying. As they approached, McNeil opened fire and hit Rivera and Mora. The third officer returned fire and seriously injured McNeil.
Rivera died Friday shortly after the shooting.
Mora, who was shot in the head, succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday. He donated his organs and was ultimately able to save five lives. Services are scheduled for February 1 and 2 and will also be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
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McNeil allegedly used a high capacity magazine and a Glock handgun, both of which were allegedly stolen. He died of his injuries on Monday.