LONG ISLAND — Thousands of police officers gathered at a Massapequa church to remember a "hero" who, with his last words, saved the life of his partner.
"Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo was a hero by any definition,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at the 11 a.m. funeral, held at St. Rose of Lima church. “He chose to put on a uniform and stand between us and all the dangers we face.”
Tuozzolo, 41, a husband and father of two, was shot and killed by Manuel Rosales, 35, who had broken into his estranged wife's house in The Bronx.
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The 19-year veteran of the NYPD, including 10 years spent with the 43rd Precinct, was shot in the head while confronting Rosales after the break-in, police said. His partner, Sgt. Emmanuel Kwo, was shot in the leg.
Rosales — who officials said had 17 prior arrests — was also killed during the exchange of gunfire with officers.
Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said he spoke with Kwo last week about the moments that led up to the deadly confrontation.
"Paul saved my life," he told him. His last words — "gun, gun, gun" — signaled to the sergeant and the rookie police officer who was with him to stay back.
“Paul was a warrior," he said. He used an old quote from General Douglas MacArthur to describe him.
“Duty, honor and country,” he said. “It’s who we are, it’s how we live, it’s what we all stand for.”
Austin and Joseph Tuozzolo watch their father's casket outside his funeral. (DNAinfo/Katie Honan)
At his funeral, Tuozzolo was remembered as friendly and fun-loving. He drove an old beat-up car even as he was promoted.
In his spare time, he fished and worked hard as an equal partner to his wife, Lisa, and their three- and four-year-old boys, Austin and Joseph, family members said.
"Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo, who loved being a cop second only to being a husband and a father, gave his life in the performance of his duty," said Commissioner James O'Neill. "That is the ultimate selfless act."
Mourners look up as an NYPD helicopter flies about Sgt. Tuozzolo's funeral. (DNAinfo/Katie Honan)
De Blasio also spoke directly to the family in his closing remarks to Tuozzolo's two sons.
“I know you will remember your dad as a hero," de Blasio told the boys, dressed in matching gray sweaters. "Years from now, when you’re grown up, that will give you comfort.”
Tuozzolo is the fifth NYPD officer killed in the line of duty in two years. His wake was held Wednesday on Long Island.