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Columns : Editorial

Where Do We Get Such Men?

Two unarmed NYPD auxiliaries helped stop a gunman and paid for it with their lives.

April 01, 2007  |  by - Also by this author

You may not recognize the names of Yevgeniy "Eugene" Marshalik, 19, and Nicholas Todd Pekearo, 28. But you should. These young men are true heroes who upheld the greatest traditions of the New York Police Department, and they weren't even "real cops."

On the night of March 14, David Robert Garvin, 42, strode into De Marco's Pizzeria on Houston Street wearing a fake beard, a hooded black sweatshirt, and a Yankees cap. In his waistband was a 9mm semi-auto. He carried a bag that contained another gun-a .380 semi-auto-and six mags holding 90 rounds.

Minutes later Garvin stood over the body of Alfredo Romero—a waiter and bartender against whom he reportedly held a grudge. Witnesses say Garvin shot Romero in the back, then as the waiter and bartender fell, Garvin fired 14 more times. Romero was struck 12 times.

It doesn't take much to imagine the reaction of the people in the pizzeria. Shock. Horror. Confusion. Panic. Garvin stripped off his disguise and walked out into the street.

A sergeant and two armed patrol officers responded to the shots. They called for an ambulance, but Romero was beyond help. They also broadcast a description of the gunman.

NYPD Auxiliary Officers Marshalik and Pekearo heard the call from the first responders and were standing on the corner of Sullivan and Bleeker when they spotted a man who fit the gunman's description coming toward them carrying a bag.

The two unarmed volunteers did not run. They confronted the man who they believed could be the shooter and ordered him to drop his bag. Investigators believe that Garvin's gun was still empty at this point and that's why he momentarily complied with the auxiliary officers' command. He then punched one of the two men in the face and escaped down the street.

At this point, Marshalik and Pekearo have gone above and beyond the call of duty for two unpaid auxiliary cops. After all, they have no weapons other than batons. They could have pulled back without any dishonor. But instead they split up and trailed Garvin down the street, keeping their distance but still watching his every move.

A security video reportedly captured what happened next. Garvin saw the armed cops blocking off the street ahead and turned back toward the two auxiliaries.

On the east side of Sullivan, Garvin saw Pekearo trying to take cover behind a parked car. He shot Pekearo seven times at close range. Only one of the rounds was stopped by the ballistic vest that Pekearo had purchased for himself and wore on the street.

Garvin then ran to the west side of Sullivan where he found Marshalik, also taking cover behind a car. He executed the 19-year-old aspiring officer with a single shot to the back of the head.

By this time armed officers were closing on the gunman. Garvin engaged them in a running gun battle. He was cornered in a doorway by four officers. Witnesses told the New York Times that they clearly heard the officers shout, "Police! Don't move! Drop your weapon!" But Garvin did not comply and died in a hail of bullets.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly credited the two auxiliary officers with saving lives. "The fact that more lives were not lost is due in no small measure to Auxiliary Officers Pekearo and Marshalik, who tried valiantly to observe [the gunman's] changing locations as he fled a murder scene," Kelly said at a press conference.

At presstime, the NYPD said that Pekearo and Marshalik would receive full police honors at their funerals. That's the least the department can do for two officers who weren't even paid to serve and whose courage begs the eternal questions: Where do we get such men? Where do they come from?

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