The NYPD police officer who was fatally shot Monday while responding to a robbery in Brooklyn was remembered Tuesday as a loving father and the ultimate "cop's cop."
Dozens of Cypress Hills neighbors gathered for a candlelight vigil Tuesday night, commemorating the police officer who died protecting them. With a 22-balloon salute representing each of Officer Peter Figoski's 22 years on the force, the neighbors paid tribute to the decorated cop who patrolled their blocks for years.
"When a person dies in our community, the whole community bleeds," said community activist Tony Herbert.
Cathy Gabriel, a neighbor who attended the vigil, said, "I feel for that family. That family, what they're feeling right now, them girls. To lose their dad."
Figoski, 47, was killed early Monday during a botched armed robbery. Lamont Pride, of Coney Island, allegedly shot Figoski once in the face with a semiautomatic handgun before the officer could draw his own weapon.
Figoski was taken to a hospital, where he died about five hours later.
Mixed with the sadness and sense of loss, some community leaders at the vigil Tuesday couldn't help but feel the inter-state justice system let them down.
"These judges gotta stop letting these guys loose... instead of sending them back where they're supposed to go, to jail," said John Rodriguez, 75th Precinct Community Council President.
NBC New York first reported Monday Pride was in custody last month after a drug arrest but a judge let him go.
"One shooting is one too many," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a news conference Tuesday morning. "It robs his daughters of a caring father, and this department and East New York of a great police officer."
Dozens of NYPD officers streamed into the downtown Brooklyn courtroom Tuesday to form the famous blue wall of solidarity and face the suspects accused of Figoski's murder.
"The mood in the 75th precinct, as you can imagine, is very somber," said Lt. John Tennant, who worked with Figoski in the precinct. "When I come to work, it's also with a heavy heart from losing one of the family members downstairs."
Figoski's career included more than 200 arrests and 12 medals — one of them an exceptional merit award for coming under fire in a brush with a man who would later be convicted as the city's Zodiac copycat killer of the early 1990s.
The officer had enough time on the force to retire with a full pension, but "people who love the job stay on," said Tennant.
Figoski was "a dedicated police officer," Tennant said. "He was a cop's cop."
The officer was a divorced father of four daughters: Carolyn, 16, and Corrine, 14, both in high school, and Christine, 20, and Caitlyn, 18, who are in college upstate.
Kelly announced the creation Tuesday of The New York City Police Foundation's Peter Figoski Scholarship Fund, which will pay for the education of his four daughters.
Donations to the Peter Figoski Scholarship Fund can be made online at nycpolicefoundation.org. Check donations may also be mailed to:
New York City Police Foundation
Attention Peter Figoski Fund
555 5th Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Funeral services for Figoski are scheduled for next Monday at St. Joe's Church in Babylon on Long Island. Wake services will be held over the weekend.