Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 18 March 2011 00:00
Tragedy struck last Saturday night in Massapequa Park as a Nassau County police officer was killed in what police term as friendly fire as officers responded to a robbery incident that took place in the Front Street area.
Police Officer Geoffrey J. Breitkopf 40, a 12-year veteran of the force and a resident of Selden, succumbed to his injury sustained at the March 12 incident. Police Officer Breitkopf was pronounced deceased at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow shortly after 9:15 p.m.
According to Nassau County Police, the incident took place on Saturday at around 8:13 p.m. At that time, police were called for a suspicious person with weapons walking in the vicinity of Front Street. Responding officers confronted the subject eastbound on Front Street where he fled on foot to the residence at 5 Fourth Street. The subject barricaded himself inside a room at that location, detectives said. Officers entered the residence, called for assistance and evacuated the occupants of the house. During this time the suspect suddenly emerged from the room with a knife and lunged at the officers, detectives said. The officers discharged their weapons, fatally shooting the subject and he succumbed to his wounds at the scene. The subject who was fatally wounded has been identified by detectives as Anthony Digeronimo of 5 Fourth Avenue Massapequa Park.
Police Officer Breitkopf, who was assigned to the elite Bureau of Special Operations (BS0), was also at the scene and was struck by gunfire as result of an accidental shooting. Breitkopf was transported to Nassau University Medical Center where he succumbed to his wounds.
On Sunday, March 13, Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey held a press conference to provide further details.
Mulvey said that after the initial shooting incident, at a time estimated at between 8 and 13 minutes, Breitkopf arrived at the Fourth Avenue residence. Also at the scene by then were two MTA officers, both of whom were stationed at the Massapequa Long Island Railroad station. Breitkopf, Mulvey said, was approaching the house with a rifle by his side. Mulvey added that he was not holding the rifle in a shooting position. According to Mulvey, an MTA officer, who was also outside the residence, fired a single shot to Breitkopf’s right side. An investigation of the incident is ongoing, including those regarding the plainclothes officer’s identification process. County officials said the incident is the first friendly fire fatality to take place in Nassau County since 1976.
Tributes to the fallen officer poured in from local officials and institutions.
County Executive Edward P. Mangano immediately postponed his planned March 14 State of the County address.
“My deepest sympathies go out to the family, friends and colleagues of Nassau County Police Officer Geoffrey J. Breitkopf of the elite Bureau of Special Operations, who lost his life in the line of duty on March 12, 2011,” read a statement from County Executive Mangano. “Police Officer Breitkopf’s dedication to keeping Nassau County safe deserves the highest recognition. This is a tragic day for the County of Nassau and the Nassau County Police Department. Officer Breitkopf was a highly decorated member of the Nassau County Police Department who joined the force in 1998 and served as an exemplary police officer and model citizen. During his tenure with the Nassau County Police Department, Officer Breitkopf received five Command Recognitions, four Meritorious Police Service Awards and a Medal of Commendation. Officer Breitkopf leaves behind his wife, Paula and two children; Connor and Owen. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and fellow police officers of Office Breitkopf during this sad time. On behalf of the people of Nassau County, I have ordered all Nassau County buildings to fly our Nation’s flag at half-staff in memory of Police Officer Geoffrey J. Breitkopf.”
“My most heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to Police Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf’s family, as well as his extended family of fellow officers in the Nassau County Police Department,” said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. “This tragic incident reminds every citizen in this county of the dangers that our officers face each day, as they put their lives on the line to protect us and keep our communities safe.”
“The entire MTA family wishes to share its condolences with the Nassau County Police Department and the family of a Nassau County officer tragically killed in an accidental shooting last night,” said a release from the MTA. “The MTA Police Department is cooperating with Nassau County PD and DA’s offices in the ongoing investigation.”
This is the second time in just six weeks that the Massapequa area has felt the brunt of the death of a Nassau County police officer. On Feb. 5, Wantagh resident and Nassau County Patrolman Michael J. Califano died after a truck driver collided into his parked vehicle on the Long Island Expressway in Old Westbury.
—Details were provided by the Nassau County Police Department’s Public Information Office