Residents from throughout Queens packed the auditorium of St. Mary’s Gate of Heaven School in Ozone Park last week for a fundraising rally in support of slain Police Officer Peter Figoski’s family.
Though it was only three days before Christmas, the mood in the school was solemn as concerned Ozone Park residents, parishioners, civic leaders and elected officials gathered to lend a helping hand to Figoski’s four daughters. The large crowd also condemned those charged with playing a role in shooting and killing Figoski, a 22-year veteran of the New York Police Department, when he responded to a burglary in progress in Brooklyn’s 75th Precinct earlier this month.
Four of the five suspects arrested in the murder of Figoski, 47, of Babylon, LI, are residents of Ozone Park, but neighbors and community officials want the city to know that criminal behavior is neither typical nor tolerated in their neighborhood.
“I want to let the family and NYPD know that they have the support, prayers, love and respect of our community,” said U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Queens, Brooklyn), whose daughter, Ann, helped to organize the event. “It’s a sad thing for this big neighborhood that the alleged perpetrators were residents here. It does not reflect the character and the goodwill of this neighborhood.”
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) agreed with the congressman.
“It’s only fitting that this community show support for those who keep us safe and send a message that we will never tolerate any murderous act on anyone charged with serving the public,” Ulrich said. “The four alleged perpetrators are not a reflection on Ozone Park. The good people in this room, donating their time and money, are a true reflection of what Ozone Park is all about. We support our cops and their families and when they need us most, we will be there for them.”
The man charged with shooting Figoski is Lamont Pride, 27, of North Carolina. His alleged accomplices are Ozone Park residentsKevin Santos, 30, of 85th Street; Michael Velez, 21, of 102nd Avenue; Ariel Tejada, 22, of 89th Street; and Nelson Moralez, 27, of 84th Street.
The four Ozone Park men were charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon, according to police.
Ann Turner and Thomas Flood, a friend of the Turner family, organized last Thursday’s event as part of Make a Difference Christmas, a parish-based outreach group that raises money and gifts for needy children.
Flood echoed the sentiments voiced during the rally, saying the four alleged perpetrators are “not who Ozone Park is.”