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Society

“3 Times a Hero”: NYC Honors 2nd Officer Slain in Harlem

February 2, 2022

NEW YORK — Throngs of police converged Wednesday for New York City’s second funeral in a week for an officer ambushed while answering a call for help in Harlem, mourning Wilbert Mora hours after another colleague was shot and wounded.

Organ music filled Fifth Avenue as officers from around the city and beyond gathered for Mora’s funeral Wednesday morning at the Roman Catholic cathedral where his police partner, Jason Rivera, was eulogized and posthumously promoted to detective Friday. Both officers were shot Jan. 22 while responding to a call about a domestic argument in an apartment.

“It’s a horrible loss for the community, for the city, for anyone that’s a first responder,” Linden, New Jersey, Officer Raymond Wegrzynek, 34, said outside the cathedral for the latest in a series of police funerals he’s attended in his six years of police work. “It’s a thing that we do. We all come together.”

Mora’s funeral came shortly after the sixth shooting this year of a New York Police Department officer.

An off-duty police officer was shot and wounded when two men approached him at a Queens traffic light as he drove to work Tuesday night, police said. The officer was in stable condition at a hospital Wednesday, and two men were arrested.

Mora, 27, joined the New York Police Department in October 2018, after graduating from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. A student of Dominican descent who’d grown up in East Harlem, he was interested in improving relations between police and the neighborhoods they patrolled, according to one of his professors, Irina Zakirova.

That sensibility endured in his police work. Stephanie McGraw, a domestic violence victims’ advocate who got to know Mora while visiting his stationhouse, said last week that he “understood the importance of getting into this very crucial and important role as a police officer — to not only make a difference but to bring some more men and women of color into the NYPD.”

At the same time, Mora made 33 arrests during his few years on the job. Fellow officers recalled him as a humble, helpful colleague who took the bus to work.

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell called Mora “three times a hero.”

“For choosing a life of service. For sacrificing his life to protect others. For giving life even in death through organ donation,” she said in announcing his Jan. 25 death.

Mora’s organ donations benefited five people, according to the organization that handled the gift.

The gunman, Lashawn McNeil, 47, died after a third officer shot him as he tried to flee, officials said.

Before last month, the NYPD had last lost an officer in the line of duty when Anastasios Tsakos was hit by a suspected drunken driver in May 2021 at the scene of an earlier wreck.

No on-duty NYPD officer had been fatally shot since September 2019, when Brian Mulkeen was hit by a fellow officer’s fire during a struggle with an armed man.

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