Photo Credit: Shlomit Belilos
A sea of blue waits on Fifth Avenue in NYC to escort NYPD Detective First Grade Wilbert Mora, 27, to his final resting place. Feb. 2, 2022

Thousands of New York City police officers and others from around the country gathered along Fifth Avenue, standing a dozen rows deep as vehicles with flashing lights accompanied the hearse carrying the body of Police Officer Wilbert Mora, 27, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.

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Among other cops who came to stand in solidarity with New York’s Finest was a delegation from Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Mora and Rivera were shot in the line of duty on January 21 while responding to a domestic violence call in Harlem. An ex-convict out on probation opened fire at the two officers as they entered his room to speak with him at his mother’s apartment.

“That piercing sound you heard on a cold night last week was the wail of a mother whose faith in everything good and fair in this world had been shaken to her soul,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said in a powerful eulogy delivered at the podium on the altar. “I hope the whole city heard her,” she said grimly.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who also delivered a eulogy, told those gathered in the cathedral, “It is New Yorkers against the killers and we will not lose. We’ll protect our city.”

Just four days ago, the sea of blue similarly stood at attention as the body of Police Officer Jason Rivera was likewise brought to the cathedral for a final goodbye.

NYPD detectives later found a loaded AR-15 assault rifle under the mattress of 74-year-old Lashawn McNeill during a search last weekend after detectives secured a warrant, according to a report by WPIX-11.

McNeill used an illegally modified Glock .45-caliber handgun when he burst out of his room and ambushed the officers, according to the New York Post which reported the killer continued to shoot even after the officers were lying on the floor.

Mora’s grieving sister Katrina asked in her eulogy, delivered in Spanish, “I only ask myself, how many Wilberts? How many Jasons? How many officers must lose their lives so that this system changes?

“How many more lives of those who protect us will be taken by violence and crime? How many mothers? How many mothers, how many sons will have to lose their families, to go through this trauma and this type of tragedy?

“Wilbert Mora was a young man full of dreams – dreams that today will remain incomplete,” she said. ““He was the joy of the house. It didn’t matter how tired he was when he came home from work, Wilbert lit up the house with his smile. And today that light is extinguished, with pain, forever.”

Recalling her relief that her brother “did not get lost in the streets” she noted that he was “making a difference among the youngsters of our community,” adding sadly, “Never did I imagine that my peace would last less than four years.”

As had Rivera’s young widow less than a week earlier, Mora’s sister Katrina expressed outrage at the current situation in the city, demanding to know who was responsible to prevent “this type of tragedy to continue happening?”

Rivera, 22, died at Harlem Hospital shortly after the shooting; he was laid to rest last Friday, escorted the same way by his brothers and sisters in blue with city and state leaders.

“This has always been a city of lights, and Detective First Grade Jason Rivera was one of its brightest,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at his funeral. She announced that day that she had promoted him posthumously “with sincere admiration and appreciation” to Detective First Grade.

Mora was also taken to Harlem Hospital but transferred to NYU Langone Medical Center 48 hours later following two operations for a bullet to the head. He died shortly after.

“Wilbert is 3 times a hero,” Sewell said upon announcing Mora’s passing. “For choosing a life of service. For sacrificing his life to protect others. For giving life even in death through organ donation. Our heads are bowed & our hearts are heavy.”

A third cop, rookie Police Officer Sumit Sulan, was also at the scene and returned fire, critically wounding McNeill, who subsequently died of his wounds in the hospital.

The police commissioner subsequently promoted Mora posthumously to Detective First Grade as well. “Officer Wilbert Mora was the first in his family to join a profession that asks courageous men & women to leave their loved ones to protect someone else’s – just as Wilbert and Jason did when they sacrificed their lives,” Sewell said in her announcement.

Adams noted that Mora had wanted to be a police officer “his whole life.” The young officer “achieved his dream, and his work allowed so many others to achieve their dreams,” Adams wrote in a tweet. “To his family, loved ones, and brothers and sisters at the NYPD 32nd Precinct: Your loss is our loss. We will never forget his sacrifice.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.