Volume 76, Number 44 | March 28 - April 3, 2007

Villager photo by Elisabeth Robert

Sergeant Stephanie Moses modeled a bullet-resistant vest at the Sixth Precinct on Tuesday as Council Speaker Christine Quinn stood nearby.

After Village officers’ deaths, auxiliaries will now get vests

By Lincoln Anderson and Albert Amateau

Prompted by the March 14 shooting death of two police auxiliary officers, Nicholas Pekearo and Eugene Marshalik, while on patrol in Greenwich Village, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Council Speaker Christine Quinn came to the Sixth Precinct on W. 10th St. Tuesday to announce that all auxiliary police officers will now receive the same state-of-the-art bullet resistant vests issued to New York Police Department officers.

“I’ve always held an incredible admiration for New York’s Finest,” the mayor said. “They are out on our streets day and night willing to do what it takes to keep us safe. But I also have a special respect for the men and women of our auxiliary program who volunteer to fight crime. They do it for no pay and no glory — but purely because of a love they have for our city and a strong desire to serve their neighbors. The killing of Auxiliary Police Officers Pekearo and Marshalik was an awful, cold-blooded crime that shocked our entire city — but now we are determined to turn their pain into a force for good.”

The police commissioner said: “It is sad but fitting that we make this announcement in the memory of Auxiliary Police Officers Pekearo and Marshalik where they served so well and where they gave their lives.”

Regarding the vests, Bloomberg said that $3.3 million from next month’s budget will go to pay for more than 4,500 protective vests and that $617,000 will be committed annually to supply new auxiliaries with the vests, redesigned recently to provide enhanced neck and side coverage with overlapping side panels to accommodate changes in the wearer’s body shape.

It will take about nine months to outfit the current members of the city’s auxiliaries.

The new vests, made by Second Chance Armor, Inc., are certified by the National Institute of Justice to stop 9-millimeter and .44 magnum bullets fired at 16 feet with a 1,400 foot-per-second velocity.

Kelly last week formed an Auxiliary Police Review Committee to examine recruiting, selection, training and equipping auxiliaries. The review committee is also looking into how the auxiliaries are deployed and supervised. Auxiliaries currently wear uniforms and carry nightsticks, radios and handcuffs but not handguns.

Pekearo, 28, who served in the auxiliary for four years, was wearing a bullet-resistant vest that he bought himself when he was shot, but Marshalik was not protected. The two were pursuing David Garvin — who had just murdered a bartender at DeMarco’s restaurant on W. Houston St. — when Garvin turned on them and fatally shot them on Sullivan St. north of Bleecker St.

Until now, auxiliaries have had to rely on hand-me-down vests from police officers or buy their own at a cost of $500, despite the fact that their uniform stipend is only $250.

In addition, in honor of Marshalik, 19, a New York University sophomore, an anonymous donor gave N.Y.U. a gift of $100,000 last week for a scholarship fund. The donor directed that income from the gift provide scholarship money to two undergraduates who demonstrate a commitment to community service exemplified by Marshalik.

To contribute to the N.Y.U. fund, checks payable to New York University, with “Eugene Marshalik Fund” on the memo line, may be sent to the N.Y.U. Office for University Development, 25 W. Fourth St., New York, NY 10012.

Prior to the mayor and police commissioner’s announcement, some were saying not enough was being done for auxiliaries.

For example, at Pekearo’s wake on March 16 at Redden’s Funeral Home on W. 14th St., Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels civilian anticrime group, said that the auxiliary program had reached its peak under former Mayor John Lindsay, and had gone downhill ever since. Recalling when composer Leonard Bernstein was an auxiliary, Sliwa said the city had not given enough respect to the program since then.

Some still think much more should be done compared to what the mayor has offered. Also on Wednesday, Councilmember David Weprin announced that he will be introducing a 10-point plan in the City Council. Five of the points deal with equipping the auxiliaries with specific gear, including bulletproof vests; Mace (currently, civilians can carry Mace, but not auxiliaries); high-tech expandable nightsticks; automatic external defibrillators for life-saving; and protective masks for use against gases and chemicals.

In addition, Weprin’s bill proposes five legislative changes, including increasing penalties for attacking or injuring auxiliary officers; death and disability benefits; mandatory regular reporting by the Police Department to the City Council about the status of the auxiliary program and an audit of the auxiliary program’s equipment; and increased and improved self-defense training for auxiliaries by Police Academy instructors.

Austin Schafran, Weprin’s director of communications, said he expected the measures would pass the City Council, since “a lot of these things are not particularly expensive.” Whether they’ll pass with enough votes to override the mayor’s veto is another question.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, DeMarco’s pizzeria and restaurant where Garvin, 42, started his murderous spree on the night of March 14, was back open for business — at least briefly. A percentage of the weekend’s sales were to be dedicated to the family of Alfredo Romero Morales, 33, the employee who Garvin shot 15 times in the back for reasons still unclear.

Anthony Ruffino, 31, manning the pizza counter last Sunday, said they still have no idea why Garvin snapped and that, if they know anything else, police aren’t telling them.

Garvin usually would eat pasta in the small pizzeria, Ruffino said. However, on the night of the murder, Morales was waitering in the adjoining restaurant. It was the restaurant where Garvin entered, wearing a fake beard, asked Morales for a menu and then shot him in the back.

Ruffino said he frequently served Garvin himself — who came in at various times — always in the pizzeria. As for whether anything about the man struck him as unusual, Ruffino said just the way he ordered.

“Nothing that overly stood out,” he said, then added, “He was a little bit indecisive. He’d look at the menu, and end up ordering the same thing. He’d never change. Pasta mainly. He drank Pellegrinos.”

Ruffino also said it was untrue that Morales had ejected Garvin from the premises several times.

“Never. That was the Post that reported that,” Ruffino said. “Never got thrown out…. As of right now, there’s no motives, so nobody really knows. If something happened between them, we don’t know. Alfredo kept to himself. But a lot of customers liked him.”

Added Jose Luis Gomez Hernandez, 22, another DeMarco’s employee, “Alfredo used to make a lot of money — a lot of tips. He knew how to take care of the customers.” Hernandez had been at the restaurant the night of the shooting, and had run down into the basement when the gunfire erupted.

A couple came in and dropped some bills into a collection can for Morales’s family and gave their condolences. Ruffino said the donations were mounting and that the Village had really shown its support.

As for the pizzeria’s future, though, things are uncertain. David Gruber, president of the Carmine St. Block Association, who does a lot of work with restaurants, said before the murder he’d heard that people were interested in buying the place. Ruffino said DeMarco’s wouldn’t be open in the days after Sunday — and indeed it was closed Monday and Tuesday. Asked about the place’s future, he just shrugged and said he couldn’t really talk about it.


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