NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo was gunned down last November while responding to a call of an estranged husband trying to enter a home after having threatened his wife. Tuozzolo was killed and another officer wounded.
Tuesday was the first day of kindergarten for Tuozzolo’s young son, an important day in almost any family. This is a day the slain officer would have stood outside, holding his son’s hand, waiting for the bus…only, a criminal had made that impossible.
But young Austin Tuozzolo didn’t have to wait alone for that first day of school by any stretch of the imagination.
An army of uniformed NYPD officers swept onto the doorsteps of slain Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo’s Long Island home Tuesday to send off his young son to his first day of school.
The touching moment was captured in a series of photos tweeted by the NYPD’s 43rd Precinct, where Tuozzolo worked when he was shot and killed in November 2016.
“This morning we continued our vow to #NeverForget Paul’s family, as we send off Austin on his 1st day of school,” NYPD Precinct 23 tweeted.
Little Austin, wearing a striped shirt and backpack, is pictured grinning from his front porch surrounded by dozens of his father’s beaming colleagues.
One of the men standing with Austin was Lt. Emmanuel Kwo, the other officer shot the night Sgt. Tuozzolo was killed.
“I was shot, and he saved my life, so myself and everyone pictured and thousands around the city have pledged to Lisa that we will always be here for her family and never forget them,” Kwo, who runs the Patches4Paul Facebook page honoring his slain colleague, told ABC News in a Facebook message today.
He said all the officers “are family” and they wouldn’t have missed this morning’s sendoff for the world.
“We felt we had to be here to make sure Austin feels completely surrounded with love and that his mom doesn’t forget that she has us by her side through all these momentous events,” Kwo wrote. “There was no way we were not going to be there with her to kind of lift her up and let her know she’s never alone.”
That concept of family isn’t only for when an officer is lost in the line of duty. I grew up in a police family myself, so I saw it work from the inside. Any time an officer was in distress, we watched as the family pulled together. After all, we were the only ones who really seemed to understand what it was to watch a member of our family leave the house with out even the illusion that they might not make it home.
Obviously, the Tuozzolo family would rather have Paul present for a moment like this, I have no doubt that the presence of so many of his brother and sister officers was a big help. It’s good to know that your husband or father was well-respected and loved by his fellow officers, and that much is clear from the turnout.