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Patrolman John E. Varecha | New York City Police Department, New York New York City Police Department, New York

Patrolman

John E. Varecha

New York City Police Department, New York

End of Watch: Monday, October 7, 1968

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 25

Tour: 10 months

Badge # 26540

Cause: Gunfire

Weapon: Handgun; .32 caliber

Offender: Convicted of murder

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Patrolman Varecha was shot and killed after stopping a car for running a red light.

Patrolman Varecha was standing on his foot post in front of the Canadian Consulate in Manhattan when he observed a vehicle pass through a red light. Patrolman Varecha commandeered a vehicle and gave chase. He was able to stop the vehicle in front of 154 East 54th Street. As Patrolman Varecha approached the stopped vehicle, two men exited. A struggle ensued, followed by several shots. Patrolman Varecha was shot four times and killed. He was able to return fire, but missed the suspects. Two off-duty Patrolman who heard the gun shots responded and arrested both suspects.

Both suspects, who were out on bail for two separate shooting incidents at the time they murdered Patrolman Varecha, where convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. One suspect was paroled on 1999. The second suspect escaped from prison in 1978. He was captured in California in 1981 and returned to New York. He was released on parole in January 2011.

Patrolman Varecha had served with the New York City Police Department for 10 months and was assigned to the 18th Precinct. He was survived by his mother and father.

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I went through the academy with John and was sent to the 18th Precinct along with him. I worked the post on Fifth Avenue on a 4 x 12 tour and was relieved by John the night he was killed. I was probably the last officer to speak to John before the gunfight that took his life. I still have the original Daily News paper with his picture on the front page. I left the NYPD for Suffolk PD on February 1, 1969, but I and the other officers who left the 18th for Suffolk still talk about the night that changed our lives forever. I use the newspaper story of John to enforce the importance of being a proficient shot with the duty weapon in the Sarasota County Florida Police Academy, where I teach rookie officers.
— PO Warren McCue Shield 26315

I was a patrolman in the 18Pct. when John Varecha was murdered.I previously walked the same post he did and Would bring him or other Police Officers who walked the cement canyons of NYC coffee and a few minutes in a warm patrol car when ever I could. John was a good cop who was a hard worker and aggressive, in the best sense of that word, when he was doing his job.He was a good man and a good police officer. I was shot at 8 times and stabbed once in my years on the job. There but the grace of God go I. May he rest in repose with the Saints and the martyrs. Respectfully submitted.
— Frederick Ledogar

Rest in peace from the members of Midtown Precinct North. You are not forgotten. 10/24/2005
— Sgt. J. Hynes

John Varecha was one of my closest friends in the NYPD. The other two were PO Leo Garrick, known to everyone in Midtown North as Mickey,and PO Gerald Velotta, (who was shot accidentally and killed by a fellow officer in the basement of the 18th in January, 1971.)
I was in the same class at The Academy with John, with Lt. Marvin "the Slash" Licker as our instructor, a true character who used to throw us out of the class whenever we got it wrong. (He threw Irwin Raymer out a lot.) "Just stand in the hall with the back of your head in the window you moron, because you'll never learn anything." Madman Licker, to whom we all owe a great debt, never threw John out. When we graduated on December 13, 1967, at the 26th street Armory, I first went to the old 16th precinct , on West 47th St., built before the Civil War. I joined John and other guys from my class in early 1968 when the 16th and closed and we moved up to 18th fighting for space. By chance, and I have always believed fate, my locker was next to John's, and we wound up in the same squad, the 15th, under Sergeant Hansen, one fine man, and a good cop. John and I worked together every tour from the very beginning to the very end, including the night he died. John, Jerry and I hung out and triple dated a lot, (the Italian thing, capisca?)?.and our last fun night out together was three nights before John's murder, 4 October, my birthday. We went to Thursday's on West 58th. Like I said, friends, but truth be told, We loved John, but he was focused on super cop., John was aggressive in his collar pursuits. He wanted to keep pace with another guy we were friends with, and hung out with, (he was at Thursday?s for my birthday too,) in our class, Grant Webster, who was collaring everybody up in the 41st precinct, made famous as Fort Apache. John relieved Warren McClure, another member of our class, on the fixed post, (known to cops a fixer), in front of Air Canada at 54th and 5th. So set the record straight about John's time on the job, and what the post really was.

One reason I and tragic recollection of that part of the story; that was supposed to be my post that night. I wish, like Warren, I had saved a copy of the Roll Call from that night; the one on which Sgt. Hansen made the change that sent me to Special 2 on 42nd Street in Midtown Southand John to the air Canada fixr. What is particularly painful, and never leaves me is the fact that John who so loved the action asked me to switch with him because he didnt want to take the chance that he would catch a collar that night, which, on Special 2 on late tours was an imminent certainty. He has something important to do the next day, (I cannot remember what.) So we asked Hansen and he said, as he always did, no problem. At about 1:15 AM, we all heard the call on our portables, and a few minutes later the MTS sector picked me up and took me to the hospital. John was already gone, and Sergeant Hansen wanted to know if I would go with the department Chaplin to John's home because I knew his family. I said I would, but I also told them the truth that I didn?t know his family very well. The Borough commander decided I would be of better use if I stayed with John. I stayed with John, and John has stayed with me my entire life. I wore one of John?s shirts, his helmet and gunbelt, cuffs and memo book the rest of my time on the job. I also wore it all at the dedication of the NYPD harbor boat the John Varecha, where I sat with his family. Truth be told, I would not have commandeered a cab to chase two low lives for blowing a light. Unfortunately fate does not take such things into account. But I, like all of John?' friends, would go to the ends of the Earth for him and into any battle with John because he would do the same; always. John Boy, you were a loved, respected, decent guy; and as good a cop as there ever was. One last thing... A hard rain fell that night.
PO RAYMOND SITRA
SHIELD #26500 John

PO RAYMOND SITRA
NYPD MIDTOWN NORTH
October 12, 2016

 

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