Thousands of family members, friends and colleagues turned out to pay their respects at funerals Friday for two fallen police officers from Suffolk County who died in the line of duty hours apart last weekend.
Officers lined the streets outside services in East Islip for New York City Police Officer Alain Schaberger and in Selden for Nassau County Police Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf while speakers broadcast eulogies to accommodate crowds too large to fit inside during both funerals. Each service included a group helicopter flyover.
“It’s tough for the troops,” said Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey. “They’re wrestling three emotions simultaneously: There’s certainly grief and compassion for the family, and they’re still dealing with anger.”
Breitkopf, 40, was accidentally shot and killed by an MTA cop while responding to a call in Massapequa Park on Saturday night. Schaberger, 42, died after a domestic violence suspect pushed him down a stairwell early Sunday in Brooklyn.
“The murder of a police officer is not a solitary event, it is an assault upon society,” said New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, “and our society grieves with Alain’s loved ones over this terrible loss.”
The Cortlandt Manor resident and U.S. Navy veteran who grew up on Long Island was remembered as man of generous spirit who often comforted grieving family members visiting the World Trade Center site. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was among the speakers at his funeral.
“He was always will to go the extra mile to help someone,” Kelley said. He is survived by his fiance, Shoshone Peguese, and was buried at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale.
Breitkopf, an elite Bureau of Special Operations officer who also volunteered in the Selden Fire Department, leaves behind a wife, Paula, and two young sons; Connor, 6, and Owen, 3.
He was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coram.
“My best memory of Geoff, he had this grin, he just had a smile,” said Steven Murray, a retired Nassau police sergeant. “We would all wonder what he was up too. It was one of those smiles.”
An attorney for George Villanueva, the man charged with pushing Schaberger to his death, said his client plans to plead not guilty.
Breitkopf was the second Nassau officer killed on the job in five weeks. Highway Patrolman Michael Califano died last month after a trucker crashed into his parked patrol car on the Long Island Expressway while he was conducting a traffic stop.