Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Flags Lowered Citywide in Honor of Fallen NYPD Officer

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As the city honored an New York City police officer who died from injuries he sustained Sunday while responding to an intentionally set fire in Brooklyn, legal sources tell NY1 that the teen accused of setting the fire will likely see the charges against him upgraded.

Police say 16-year-old Marcell Dockery intentionally set the fire in the Unity Towers, where he lived.

Early this week, the teen was charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment in connection with the blaze, but legal sources tell NY1 that those charges are likely to be upgraded.

A flag-lowering ceremony was held at 1 Police Plaza Wednesday afternoon in honor of 38-year-old Dennis Guerra.

Guerra was pronounced dead shortly before 7 a.m. at Montefiore Hospital, where he had been in critical condition.

Police Commissioner William Bratton was joined by various department heads and staff in Lower Manhattan as the flag was lowered and was followed by a helicopter flyover.

"It is a startling reminder that what can appear to be a routine assignment can very quickly become deadly. Police Officer Guerra gave his life trying to save others, and that is the ultimate selfless act," Bratton said.

Guerra and fellow officer Rosa Rodriguez were the first to respond to the fire in a high-rise building on Surf Avenue in Coney Island just before 12:30 p.m. Sunday, but the pair barely made it out of the elevator.


Firefighters pulled them out after they discovered the pair unconscious and unresponsive.

Firefighters brought the fallen police officers to the main entrance, where EMS personnel treated them in front of the Coney Island housing development site #1B.

Guerra was resuscitated in the field and brought to Coney Island Hospital before being airlifted to Jacobi Medical Center.

The police union said Guerra's father is a former cop.

"A father who wore the uniform of a New York City police officer to have to stand by the bedside of their son and see the last breath," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch.

Police say Rodriguez was initially transported, conscious, to Lutheran Medical Center and was later moved to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center where she remains in a medically-induced coma.

Rodriguez's family attended the flag-lowering ceremony for Guerra.

According to police, Guerra was married with four children, while Rodriguez has four children and lives with her mother.

Black and purple bunting is now draped at their stationhouse, PSA 1 in Brooklyn.

"We pray for all the members of PSA 1 who have had this tragedy befall their command," said Monsignor Robert Romano, NYPD chaplain.

Speaking in Harlem Wednesday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has suffered a great loss and reminded New Yorkers of the sacrifices made by first responders every day.

He added, "It's something that our police officers do every day. It's something our first responders do every day. It is something we need to appreciate every day. Even if a lot of us can't see ourselves doing something of such bravery, we have to appreciate those who do it on our behalf."

The mayor has ordered all flags be flown at half-staff on all city buildings and stationary flagstaffs across the city.

In the wake of the fire, Bratton said the NYPD is now looking to create new procedures to keep police safe during fire calls, which will include basic fire safety training and checking for smoke in elevator shafts.

In addition, 911 operators will let officers know how many calls have come in about an emergency which could let them know how severe a situation is.

"The best thing a New York City police officer can have is training to do their their job better, and to make sure a tragedy like this doesn't happen," Lynch said.

"We know Dennis will always live on, his countless acts of generosity, and the lives that he protected, and in the city he helped to make safer," Bratton said.

Residents of the apartment building that was the scene of the fire said they were saddened to hear about Officers Guerra and Rodriguez.

"I think it's a real true tragedy because I see both of those officers all the time, and they're not no bad officers that they do things they shouldn't do," one resident said. "They was good officers, and just the fact that they was running in the building to help us, my heart is broke for him and his family."

"I always see him patrolling, and he always seems to be dedicated and concerned for the residents of the building," said another.

"It's very sad to hear that we lost him, and, you know, it's very, for something stupid that somebody did," said a third.

Residents said they may hold a vigil for Guerra soon.

Some neighbors said they know the family of the boy who set the fire as kind and quiet.

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