Police Officer Dennis Guerra New York City Police Department, New York End of Watch: Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Police Officer Dennis Guerra | New York City Police Department, New YorkNew York City Police Department, New York

Police Officer Dennis Guerra

New York City Police Department, New York
End of Watch: Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Biographical Info

Age: 38
Tour of Duty: 8 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Fire
Date of Incident: April 6, 2014
Weapon Used: Arson
Suspect Info: Not available

Agency Contact Information

Commissioner William J. Bratton
New York City Police Department
1 Police Plaza
Room 1320
New York, NY 10038
Phone: (646) 610-6700

Police Officer Dennis Guerra died from injuries he sustained after responding to a residential apartment building fire.
Officer Guerra and his partner responded to a fire on the 13th floor of a New York City Housing Authority building in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn. As Officer Guerra and his partner stepped off the elevator onto the 13th floor, they were immediately overcome by heavy smoke and carbon monoxide fumes. The officers radioed for assistance, and members of the New York City Fire Department responded and found both officers unconscious and unresponsive. Officer Guerra was resuscitated with CPR and transported to a local hospital. He was later transferred to a specialized hospital in the Bronx, where he died three days later from his injuries. Officer Guerra’s partner was removed to a local hospital where she is in critical but stable condition.
It was determined that the fire was intentionally set by a 16-year-old arsonist, who lit a mattress on fire in the hallway of the building. He was arrested by Detectives and his charges are pending.
Officer Guerra had served with the New York City Police Department for eight years and is survived by his wife and four children. He was assigned to Police Service Area 1.

One of two NYPD officers critically injured in a Coney Island fire has died. The Sunday blaze at an apartment building was apparently started by a 16-year-old boy who was "bored." WCBS 2’s sources say the police officer died this morning, and the NYPD press office now confirms that Officer Dennis Guerra was pronounced dead at 6:50 a.m. today.

The cops responded to the 911 call about a fire on the 13th floor at 2007 Surf Avenue. When they got out of the elevator they were overcome by smoke and lost consciousness. When the FDNY found them, the officers were passed out in the hallway, with Guerra in cardiac arrest. Marcell Dockery, 16, was charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment. Dockery allegedly admitted that he set a mattress ablaze on the 13th floor—he lives on the 12th with his mother—and was unable to put it out.

The family of Officer Rosa Rodriguez, 36, says the mother of four is doing better, with a relative telling the News, "Hopefully everything goes OK, but they think she will make a full recovery." The news hasn’t been as good for Guerra’s family. The cop’s mother told the Post, "We saw [Dockery] smiling on TV, is this a joke? We are going through so much right now… This is a very tough time for us. Because he was bored, two officers are now fighting for their lives, and one of them is my son."

Police Commissioner Bratton agreed, telling reporters, "The tragedy here is that a 16-year old young man would not have common sense enough to understand the implications of lighting a mattress, as has been alleged, on fire in his own building. How can any of us make any sense out of that?"

Bratton has also been defending the officers’ actions. While an FDNY training manual [PDF] recommends not using elevators if a fire is reported on the 7th floor or lower, Rodriguez and Guerra took the elevator. WCBS 880 reports, "New York City doesn’t have any protocols in place for police entering a burning building," and Bratton said, "We have determined the department has not, does not have, and has not had any policies specific to this issue of going into buildings and utilization of elevators." He also "noted it is a policy deficiency not unique to New York City. He added that a check with London, Los Angeles, and most other major cities revealed they do not have police department policy or training to address the issue either."

Update: This morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio was opening the National Action Network Convention, but he paused to remark about Guerra’s passing:

We’ve lost a good man this morning – a very brave police officer, Dennis Guerra, who did something that most of us wouldn’t understand how to do. He knew there was a fire in a public housing development on the 13th floor. He went selflessly towards the flame, selflessly towards those who are in danger, no matter what the risk to him. It’s something that our police officers do every day. It’s something our first responders do every day. It is something we need to appreciate every day.

Even if a lot of us can’t see ourselves doing something of such bravery, we have to appreciate those who do it on our behalf. And officer Guerra was exemplary. He went to try to save people in need, and he has now lost his life. And I’ve gotten to know his family in the last few days – wonderful, close family grappling with this tragedy, and I just want everyone to know that on behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers, our hearts go out to the Guerra family. We will stand by them. We will stand by them in their grief and beyond. We will honor his sacrifice. I’d like to ask everyone for just a moment of silence.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said, "My thoughts and prayers are with Officer Dennis Guerra’s family, friends and the whole NYPD community today. Officer Guerra’s courage and willingness to protect New Yorkers at the risk of his own life is an inspiration and reminder of the daily risks NYPD officers and other first responders make every day. I extend my deepest sympathies to his family during this terribly tragic time."

Update: Commissioner Bill Bratton has released this statement, and will preside over a flag-lowering at One Police Plaza at noon today:

We hold in our hearts and our prayers Police Officer Dennis Guerra, who passed away this morning at 6:50 a.m. and has given his life in the performance of his sworn duty to protect the public. He was 38 years old.

Police Officer Guerra leaves behind his wife, Cathy, and four children, Kathleen, 20; Jonathan, 17; Alyssa, 14; and Zachary, 7.

The death of a police officer as a result of an intentional act not only affects an individual, it is indeed a direct assault upon society as a whole. The entire city grieves this terrible loss. But we can take some measure of solace knowing that an arrest has been made in the arson that took Officer Guerra’s life and critically injured his partner, Police Officer Rosa Rodriguez, who continues to battle carbon monoxide poisoning and the effects of severe smoke inhalation.

On Sunday, Police Officers Guerra and Rodriguez had just finished transporting a prisoner to Brooklyn Central Booking and were near 2007 Surf Avenue when 911 calls for help were made after a fire broke out on the 13th floor of the Coney Island Housing Development building. Arriving immediately, and before other first responders, the officers took an elevator to the 13th floor, where they intended to warn and evacuate tenants, if necessary. But as they emerged from the elevator the officers were overcome by the acrid smoke quickly filling the hallway.

In the pitch-black, fire personnel were able to rapidly locate both unconscious officers and enable their swift transport to area hospitals, where medical staff performed equally heroically. As a result, Police Officer Rodriguez remains in critical, although stable, condition at Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan. Police Officer Guerra, however, succumbed to his injuries. It is a startling reminder that what can appear to be a routine assignment can very quickly become deadly. Police Officer Guerra gave his life trying to save others. And that is the ultimate selfless act.

The actions of Police Officers Guerra and Rodriguez exemplify the courage shown day in and day out by our police officers. On behalf of the New York City Police Department, I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Officer Guerra. It has been said that what we do for ourselves dies with us, but what we do for others and the world is immortal. Though his loss is devastating to us, and especially to his family, we know Dennis will always live on in his countless acts of generosity in the lives that he protected, and in the city he helped make safer. That was the mission to which Dennis devoted his life, and we are forever grateful for him.


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