Friends Remember Slain NYPD Officer as Funeral Plans Take Shape

Jason Rivera's partner, Wilbert Mora, was gravely injured in the gun battle and remains hospitalized; his condition has not improved

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What to Know

  • A 22-year-old NYPD officer was killed and another officer, 27, is in critical condition after they were shot in Harlem Friday evening while responding to a domestic violence call
  • The officers were shot by the suspect, identified as 47-year-old Lashawn McNeil, as they approached a rear bedroom; both were rushed to the hospital, where one was pronounced dead and the other in critical condition
  • McNeil died of his wounds Monday after being shot by a third officer

Jason Rivera called Inwood home, and days after a shooting in Harlem claimed the 22-year-old officer's life, there is profound grief in the neighborhood as so many people remember the kid who always wanted to be a cop.

Flames flicker in a growing memorial in Manhattan, as prayers and disbelief come from family, friends and coworkers who are struggling to cope and comprehend the loss of Rivera.

His funeral will be held Friday at St. Patrick's Cathedral; the NYPD said Tuesday that parts of Fifth Avenue would be closed starting at 6 a.m. Members of the public who want to pay respects are asked to gather on the east side of Fifth starting at 49th Street and heading south.

"Like a family. I miss him a lot. I still don’t believe, I still don’t believe it," said friend Jose Torres. "Everybody liked him. All the customers asked for him. On the phone, every time it rings, 'I want to talk to Jason.'"

Officer Jason Rivera's service will be at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Tracie Strahan and Romney Smith report.

Torres fondly remembers working side-by-side with Rivera at Inwood Pharmacy when they were teenagers. A few years ago, coworkers surprised Rivera with a cake as he worked the register on his birthday. Video showed the young man smiling and happy as everyone celebrated for him.

Torres said Rivera’s dream was always to be a cop, and even before he joined the NYPD, he was dedicated to a life of service.

"He used to go outside. The homeless people were hungry. He would go to the store and buy food for them," Torres said.

When Rivera got the job and put on the uniform, he stopped by the pharmacy all the time.

"I was happy for him. He told me look see, dreams come true," Torres said.

Teachers and neighbors say Rivera always stood out with a positive impact on his peers.

The funeral for Rivera, who was just married in October, will be this Friday at St. Patrick's Cathedral. His colleague, Wilbert Mora, clings to life after being shot in Harlem Friday evening while responding to a domestic violence call.

Lashawn McNeil, the man suspected of shooting them, died of his wounds Monday, the NYPD and Mayor Eric Adams said.

Mora, 27, was gravely injured in the gun battle with McNeil. The NYPD confirmed Sunday that he was being transferred from Harlem Hospital, where he was initially taken Friday, to NYU Langone Medical Center.

For the third straight night, there was a show of love, support and prayers outside the 32nd precinct, as the community held vigil for Mora. The officer's condition has not improved, making it even more difficult for some to hold on to that hope that he will make it out of the hospital.

Rivera, Mora and another uniformed officer responded to a domestic disturbance call around 6:15 p.m. on West 135th Street by a mother who said she was fighting with her son, according to police. She did not mention any injuries, or any weapons, on the call.

After officers arrived, they went to a rear bedroom, where McNeil fired multiple times as they approached the door. The man then tried to run from the apartment, but was confronted by the third officer, who shot him twice.

In addition to the gun he was firing, sources say another weapon was found under his bed, a privately assembled weapon based on parts purchased and registered in Michigan. The ATF/NYPD Joint Firearms Task force was still trying to figure out how the AR-15-type assault weapon got into McNeil's possession, a senior law enforcement official said.

NYPD Mourning

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell, who as been on the job for just three weeks and has already had four police shooting incidents in that time, said that she was "struggling to find words to express the tragedy we are enduring."

"Tonight, a 22-year-old son, husband, officer and friend was killed because he did what we asked him to do," Sewell said at a press conference at Harlem Hospital. "We are in mourning and we are angry."

Sewell told the scores of cops who were at the hospital that "our department is hurting, our city is hurting. It is beyond comprehension. I am not sure what words, if any, will carry the weight of this moment, and what we are feeling."

Officer Jason Rivera was shot and killed in Harlem while responding to a domestic disturbance call.

Sewell also asked for prayers for the officers' families, whose pain is "not something anyone can put into words."

Rivera's body was transported from the hospital later Friday evening to the medical examiner's office, given a full escort by a long line of police vehicles. Fellow officers lined the streets to bid farewell to their fallen comrade. His funeral is expected to be held at St. Patrick's Cathedral this week.

It was the third incident in less than 72 hours involving NYPD officers getting shot in the line of duty, and brings the number of cops shot to four, following incidents in the Bronx late Tuesday night and another officer shot early Thursday morning on Staten Island.

The officer in the Bronx, who was shot in the leg while scuffling with a teenage suspect, has already been released from the hospital. The officer who was shot in the leg while serving a search warrant for drugs in Staten Island underwent surgery at the hospital, where he was recovering. He was said to be in stable condition, but his injury was serious.

There was also an off-duty officer who was shot while sleeping inside his car, resting between shifts at a police precinct in East Harlem on Jan. 1.

"We have four times this month rushed to the scene of NYPD officers shot by violent criminals in possession of deadly, illegal guns. Five officers shot, one fighting for his life ... and now tonight, one is dead," Sewell said.

Mayor Adams made an impassioned speech at the hospital, saying that those committing the acts of violence cannot be allowed to divide the city, but rather that "we must save this city together." He called on the federal government to help go the city after those are who are trafficking guns, "constantly carving highways of death, destroying our communities."

"No one will divide this city with their violence. In fact, they're going to unite us, to come together and end this," Adams said. "We must commit ourselves to stop the debate, the dialogue, and come together and realize a gun on our street is a threat to our safety. And we must do everything possible to remove that gun."

In talking to the officers, Adams had a simple message: Don't give up on the city.

"No matter how painful this is, don't give up on the people of this city. Don't feel like they don't want you to do your job ... They want you here to do your job," the mayor said. "Let's protect the people of this city, and not allow anger to get in our way of protecting those who are living with this violence every day. We are going to protect our city, that is our promise and commitment."

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