Police Officer Anthony J. Abruzzo, Jr.

Police Officer Anthony J. Abruzzo, Jr.

New York City Police Department, New York

End of Watch Wednesday, December 16, 1981

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Anthony J. Abruzzo, Jr.

Police Officer Abruzzo was shot and killed while off-duty when he attempted to intervene in the robbery of his father-in-law in Flushing, Queens.

Officer Abruzzo's father-in-law had just returned home from work when three men approached him and struck him over the head with a gun. When Officer Abruzzo heard the commotion from inside his father-in-law's house, he ran out to assist. As he exited the house, unarmed, he called out to the suspects, "Police Officer!" The suspects turned and opened fire at Officer Abruzzo, striking him in the chest. When Officer Abruzzo's wife and brother-in-law ran to his side to help, they were shot at by the suspect also, but were not injured.

Officer Abruzzo was transported to Long Island Jewish Medical Center where he died from his wounds.

The suspects then fled the scene in a stolen car. They were apprehended six months later after they cashed checks that they had taken out of the stolen car. All three suspects were convicted of murder, attempted murder, and attempted robbery. They were subsequently sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Officer Abruzzo had served with the New York City Police Department for 13 years and was assigned to the 109th Precinct. He was survived by his wife and one child.

Bio

  • Age 34
  • Tour 13 years
  • Badge 3204

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender Three sentenced to life in prison

Most Recent Reflection

View all 34 Reflections

I graduated Lewis in 1974. My Dad has been in field 10 at Mt St. Mary's a few rows from Fresh Meadow Lane overlooking the athletic field at Lewis since 1986. His Mom since 1965. My friend and neighbor John Charles Taranto, a marine PFC, since 1968. I go there occationally to reflect on their lives. My little daughter used to write letters to grandpa Paul whom she had never met but knew through stories she has heard over the years, which she stuck in between the headstones front and back. She never shared the contents of those stories but was prolific for a time.
Across from Dad's section is 11, which I pass on the way down the hill to our plot. On the way back I always stop at a grave on the right at the top of the hill, just before the road. It belongs to Anthony Abruzzo. I never met him but we had something in common. In December of 1981 the economy was bad. Going into the Christmas holiday there seemed to be an increase in petite street crime. On December 12th or so as I had been studying late at St Johns library, my girlfriend and I stopped at the Citibank branch on Utopia and Union so I could get 20 bucks to go to school the next day. A fellow came in to the branch right after me and stopped me to asked if I knew the time. I told him I didn't have a watch and he stepped in front of me and said "Well, I have this gun and I want all your money." He waived a .32 caliber pistol under my lip as he turned back to look at his friends still in the car. I gave him my 20 bucks and told him he could have my dreams if he wanted, just don't hurt me. He told me to lay down on the floor which is when I expected him to put 2 in the back of my skull. I actually covered the back of my head with my hands and arms hoping that they would deflect a bullet. Instead, he turned, ran out the door and back into the green Chevy where is 3 friends were waiting. I was very lucky. A few days later, in the same neighborhood, Tony was at his inlaw's house helping to decorate the Christmas tree. Tony's father-in-law owned a furniture store on Main Street in Flushing and he was coming home with the day's store receipts, over $30,000 when he met the same fellow I met a few evenings earlier. Tony's mother-in-law went to the door when she saw her husband's headlights but he did not come in. She yelled to Tony, who was not carrying his off-duty piece. He charged out to intervene and they executed him where he stood. I had no proof that they were the same guys. Just a hunch. As it happens a friend of mine with whom I had lunch every few weeks or so was the court clerk in the part where the suspects were being tried. I met Steve for lunch one day during the trial and he told me that we could not go yet because the jury wanted a read back of some testimony. I sat next to Steve at his desk while this proceeded. The judge was seated, the jury walked back in and then the defendants, one by one entered the court room. The first came in. I didn't know him. The second, same thing. But when the 3rd guy walked in I saw him for only a second when the hair stood up on my arms, my back stiffened and I grew short of breath. Steve leaned over to me and said "You see the last guy?" I whispered "Yes." Steve said "He was the shooter." I told him "I know. I know."
Tony's grave was always well tended for years thereafter. I noticed as time when on that it was less so. I guessed that his parents and intlaws passed or retired to different states. He had no children and hopefully his wife remarried and recovered as best she could. It seems that now I'm the only one who marks that vigil over his grave. I always put a small stone on top of his headstone whenever I am there. My children who know the story also visit Tony's grave, knowing that life changes in a New York minute where our lives intersected so many years ago.

Paul Ferguson

February 3, 2021

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