New York community celebrate assassinated police officer's 52nd birthday and the 30th anniversary of his death.
NYPD rookie Police Officer Edward Byrne is gone but will never be forgotten, as two events marking both his 52nd birthday and the 30th anniversary of his assassination were held in the past week.
Last Wednesday, St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue was full of politicians, police officers and those who wanted to pay tribute to Byrne at a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Timothy Dolan on the day that Byrne would have turned 52. The avenue was closed around the Rockefeller Center area on Wednesday morning as people filed into the church, with the patrol car that Byrne was shot and killed in parked right outside.
On Monday, a street corner in Jamaica, right outside the NYPD’s 103rd Precinct where Byrne served for only a few short weeks before he was killed by a drug gang in his squad car, was renamed in his honor. Monday marked the 30th anniversary of Byrne’s death.
“What feels sharp and painful as ever is the notion that a coward in the dead of night took the life of a good young man, a man of such promise, such commitment,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the street naming ceremony.
“But in every tragedy we look for something we can cling on to, and in the case and loss of Eddie, it’s something very, very meaningful: he did not die in vain by any stretch of the imagination. There was anger, there was revulsion at the death of this good young man. It was not something this city ignored.”
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill was among those who paid tribute to Byrne and his family at the St. Patrick’s Mass.
“Eddie believed in the mission of the NYPD. He believed that NYPD cops could make real change in our society…he went to work in a community that truly needed him,” O’Neill said.
“This city, this nation is a far safer place because of Eddie…his assassination is a daily reminder of the danger that all police officers face.”
Byrne’s brother Larry, a deputy NYPD commissioner, thanked Mass attendees for remembering his younger brother. He also said that former President George HW Bush reached out to the family, sending regrets that he couldn’t attend the Mass. Bush kept Eddie’s NYPD shield on his Oval Office desk.
Eddie’s life “was too short, but had immense meaning,” Byrne said.